Minister of National Defence Mihnea Motoc considers that the addition to Romania’s Air Force of three new F-16 Fighting Falcons is an important moment for the country and sends a strategic message that is “well received” by NATO.
“It’s a milestone moment in many respects, perhaps through the entire symbolism of the F-16s entering service with the Romanian Air Force. I saw that image with the fighter jets flying past the Triumph Arch at the military parade on National Day, when we witnessed a leap in military hardware equipment, a political act in progress and a strategic message, which I believe, was well received by NATO,” Motoc said on Friday at the 86th Borcea Air Base.
In his opinion, the addition of the three new F-16 fighter jets to the Romanian Air Force almost completes the first squadron, and this will happen “as per schedule, under observance of the deadlines” assumed.
Mihnea Motoc said that in the three months since they entered service, the first F-16 jets acquired by Romania have been used at capacity .
“I saw them train not just for the National Day parade. They accomplished a wider range of missions, apart from the training specific for this period. I’ve seen them performing in complex multinational exercises and doing a great job. I also saw the infrastructure needed to operate this squadrons, with the agreed quality requirements definitely set in place. These are significant investments made from our budget, but also from NATO’s infrastructure program, and from one visit to another we see this air base and others looking better and growing,” said Motoc.
According to the Minister of Defence, the government has made every effort to ensure the necessary funds to cover the financial obligations arising under the ongoing contract for the purchase of the F-16 jets.
“We tried to make available the necessary funds so as to honor the financial obligations arising from the contract in progress for the F-16 jets and we are up to date with these obligations. We also tried to ensure all the maintenance conditions, and create a sufficient stock of spare parts, so that we have everything necessary for the operation, as desired, of these aircraft,” said Mihnea Motoc.
He added that he is contemplating the establishment in Romania, with the existing capabilities, of a center of excellence for the maintenance of these planes, and of the MIG-21 Lancers, to provide support to the national defence industry.
“Let’s make a virtuous circle with effects on the national defence industry, national economy, and with beneficial consequences in terms of jobs,” Minister Motoc concluded.
“Romania is advancing in direction of identifying 12 aircraft to be part of Air Forces endowment”
Romanian authorities are advancing in the direction of identifying another 12 aircraft which will be part of the Air Forces endowment, but a centralizing discussion with representatives of the country that produces this planes has to be carried out, National Defence Minister Mihnea Motoc stated on Friday at the 86th Air Base in Borcea.
“While approaching the end of the year, we realized that we have to carry out a centralizing discussion, first with the authorities of the country which produces this aircraft and which has the largest picture on the availability within the Alliance. I believe we are advancing in the direction of identifying the 12 aircraft and, soon, on this base we will be able to start unfolding the necessary procedures. There are complex procedures- inter-governmental agreements, international contracts, but also a series of national bills which has to be carried out. All these, once standing before a sure offer. From that moment on we can talk about a horizon of approximately two years until we can conclude the respective contracts,” Motoc stated.
He made this statement answering a question referring to the stage of purchasing a new F-16 aircraft squadron.
Motoc mentioned that, for now, the efforts are directed towards completing the first squadron and making it operational.
“We will focus on completing the first squadron, on making it fully operational, introducing it in missions within the Air Police fight service, we will also operate with the MIG-12 and the F-16. Another important aspect is the fact that, once known by everyone that we acquired that F-16 capability, on the NATO level a higher interest appeared for participating in what we called the air component of the Allied advanced presence at the Black Sea. We have firm intentions of participation, throughout 2017, from the UK, Canada, the US, Poland and Italy, therefore we will practically have an Allied air presence throughout the year,” Motoc underlined.
According to the Minister, this thing means more opportunity to improve inter-operability, to facilitate an easy pass from the air police to air defence, and ultimately, a more prominent presence of the Alliance on an air level.
In 2013 Romania decided to purchase from Portugal 12 used aircraft, F-16 type. Initially the purchase of 24 aircraft was intended, but the final decision was for 12, for budget reasons.
The aircraft will station at the air bases in Fetesti and Campia Turzii, specially upgraded for this type of aircraft.
According to specialists, Romania needs 48 miltirole aircraft, meaning four squadrons.