AN ACQUISITION OF 628 MILLION EUROS FOR THE ROMANIAN ARMYF16 aircraft to be used for the Air Police

A.S. (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 15 mai 2014

F16 aircraft to be used for the Air Police

The 12 F16 Block 15 aircraft recently acquired by the Romanian Air Forces, will be used for the air police, as well as for fighting enemy actions, according to sources in the Romanian army.

Former defense minister Corneliu Dobriţoiu announced two years ago that Romania was at risk of being unable to fully secure its airspace, unless new fighter planes were acquired or the 30-35 MIG 21 Lancer currently owned by the army were overhauled, as they are over 45 years old.

Romania and the US government signed the Offer and Acceptance Letter in December 2013, which ensures programmatic support for the transfer (approved by the US) of F-16 aircraft from Portugal to Romania. According to the agreement in question, 12 F-16 Block 15 fighter jets will be delivered to Romania at the "Midlife-Upgrade" standard, starting with 2016, for a payment of 628 million Euros.

The Romanian Air Forces are the 28th customer to buy the most frequently used 4th generation multi-role fighter in the world. F 16 planes are easier to make compatible as part of the multinational projects conducted by NATO.

Roderick McLean, vice-president of the company and CEO of Integrated Fighter Group F-16/F-22, said at a reception hosted by Lockheed Martin, in the presence of prime minister Victor Ponta: "We will provide technical standards and publications for the jets to guarantee that operators and technicians have first class reference sources in order to tap the entire potential of this top-of-the-line fighter platform". Approximately 90 pilots will be trained for the new aircraft. The training as well as the maintenance will begin in Portugal and subsequently be transferred to Romania.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said that the acquisition of the multi-role F16 aircraft is a symbolic gesture by which Romania demonstrates its attachment to the strategic partnership with the US and NATO. He added: "I think that the decision to acquire these airplanes was a good one. Even though it has naturally involved important costs and will continue to do so in the future, I think that the future government should also make some efforts and investments to raise Romania's military capabilities to match the standards of NATO and the US".

Duane Butcher: "F-16 jets allow for strong and efficient reaction in case of an aggression"

The acquisition of an aircraft that is fully interoperable with NATO and US forces is an important step for turning the Romanian air forces into modern and interoperable armed forces, as the F-16 offers the ability for a strong and efficient reaction in the event of an aggression, says Duane Butcher, the Chargé d'affaires of the US embassy in Bucharest, who went on to say that the program and the training for these aircraft come at a time that is extremely important for the region of the Black Sea.

The US official said that the consistent commitment of the Romanian authorities to increasing the defense budget in order to reach the NATO standard of 2% of the GDP is imperatively necessary for the armed forces to plan their medium and long term capabilities.

After riding on an F16 jet, Ponta said he went from "Fast and Furious" to weak and very slow

"Flying a supersonic jet has always been a dream of mine", prime minister Victor Ponta recently said, and he added that he could have never fulfilled this dream with a MIG 21 because of his height and furthermore, taking such a flight he would have been forced to keep explaining to the press that using a MIG does not necessarily mean you "like its makers".

One month ago, prime minister Victor Ponta was present at the Airbase no. 71 of Câmpia Turzii, where he rode on an F-16 jet which was controlled by an American pilot.

The prime minister said: "I've waited for the arrival of F16, I did not want to miss this opportunity and I have always been interested in fast cars, rally or Formula 1 cars. I saw myself as < Fast and Furious >, but after riding on an F16, I felt weakened and very slow, and by the time I landed, I had lost my smile and my energy, but not my pride. I told the pilot: < < I bet the Romanian pilots can fly these planes even better than you. > > I hope to see that happening".


"Investments in defense could represent an opportunity for new jobs"

This week, the president of the National Liberal Party, Crin Antonescu, visited the headquarters of Lockheed Martin in Washington DC, where he met Mrs. Nancy Ziuzin Schlegel, vice-president of Washington International Business Development and the heads of some military programs that this company is developing.

The liberal leader said that there is excellent cooperation between Romania and the US on military matters, and the fact that Romania opted for F16 fighter jets when it could have chosen a multirole jet for the air forces, shows the strength of the cooperation in the area of security between the two countries. Lockheed Martin is the maker of F16 jets, of which it has delivered 4544 so far. Romania is its 28th customer.

In a press release, the PNL said: "The increase of Romania's defense budget, which the PNL fully endorses, can also represent an opportunity for reinforcing the economic cooperation of the strategic partnership between Romania and the US".

According to the PNL, the cooperation with American defense companies can bring investments into Romania's defense industry, new jobs and substantial technological partnerships.

The items of interest of the meeting that Crin Antonescu had at the headquarters of Lockheed Martin were the presentations of battleships or of the new medium range anti-missile system which Lockheed Martin is developing together with other companies in Germany and Italy, of the AEGIS surveillance system, which will be installed as part of the antimissile system at Deveselu.

This year, the F-16 Fighting Falcon celebrates 40 years of evolution and remains the most effective multirole fourth generation fighter jet in the world. Over 4,540 F-16 jets have been sold so far and it is estimated that production will continue throughout 2017. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global aerospace and security company with approximately 113,000 employees and it is predominantly involved in systems research, design, development, manufacturing, integration and support of advanced systems, products and technological services. The corporation's net sales in 2013 amounted to 45.4 billion US dollars.

Swedish Gripen and the Eurofighter consortium submitted tenders to Romania a few years ago, saying that their jets were better than F16, because they were newer while costing the same.

Gripen officials said at the time that Romania might recoup some of the amount spent on the Gripen jets on the back of the investments made by the company in the domestic industry.

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