WASHINGTON, (BM) – The US State Department has approved the sale of modernization packages and work on the Romanian F-16 multi-role aircraft, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing the Polish news agency Defence24.
The approved package includes the purchase of avionics, software, communication and navigation equipment, cockpit upgrade plus logistic support. Romanians are slowly but steadily increasing the capabilities of their new fleet of combat aircraft – both in terms of the numbers and capabilities of individual machines.
The US approval concerns a package with a total value of up to $ 175.4 million. With these funds, Bucharest would buy eight GPS systems (LN-260), 19 multifunctional radio MIDS JTRS information distribution systems, as well as AN / APX-126 interrogators (IFF), ARC-210 radio stations, cryptographic applications, “other devices and software with in the scope of navigation and cryptography”, the JMPS mission planning system,“minor modifications” of the airframes (probably related to the installation of the aforementioned equipment), as well as spare parts, equipment for carrying out work and tests, and logistic support.
According to the DSCA agency (Defense Security Cooperation Agency), which has already submitted all the necessary documents to Congress, the contractor and equipment supplier will be Lockheed Martin.
In July 2013, Romania signed an agreement with Portugal and the United States worth EUR 186 million, 78 million of which was the purchase of 9 Portuguese F-16AM / BM and three F-16A / B from the AMARC landfill at the Davis-Monthan base in Arizona. The rest of the funds were spent on renovation and modernization of these aircraft to the Block 40 MLU standard. They were carried out at the OGMA Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal SA plants. Much more funds were allocated by Romanians for the purchase of weapons, aiming and navigation pods, ground handling equipment and modernization of the infrastructure for these aircraft. It consumed another USD 440 million.
However, as many as three air bases were adapted for these funds for the F-16: Fetesti, Campa Turzii and Buzuau. The infrastructure was therefore adapted not for 12, but rather for several dozen airplanes. The deliveries were made in full within four years. Nine ex-Portuguese machines were delivered to the customer in the fall of 2016, and in September 2017 they were joined by planes from Arizona, which required much more complex procedures.
In February this year, a new contract was signed for the purchase of an additional five ex-Portuguese F-16s along with corresponding renovation and modernization works at OGMA plants and a support package for a price of USD 130 million. The contract implementation is much faster than before, probably due to the experience gained earlier. Four machines have already been delivered – two machines were delivered in August and two in early November. – and joined the only Romanian F-16 squadron, Escadrila 53 Aviație Vânătoare [53rd Fighter Squadron] from Fetesti base.
In this way, it already has 16 machines, and 17 are to be added to them at the beginning of 2021. The purchase is part of the program to acquire a total of 36 machines constituting a total of three squadrons, which was to be implemented by 2022. However, it is not known how these plans will be affected by the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
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