Israeli company is modernizing Romanian training and combat aircraft

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TEL AVIV, (BM) – The Israeli company Elbit System has announced that it has concluded a contract worth 37 million dollars for the first phase of the modernization of Romanian IAR-99 training and training aircraft, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24. The aim is to adapt these machines to the training of pilots of the F-16AM / BM machines acquired in recent years.

Read more: Romania buys Kongsberg naval strike missiles from the United States

Elbit is to equip the IAR-99 aircraft with advanced avionics systems and the Embedded Virtual Avionics system for simulation and training using virtual sensors and weapons systems. These improvements are designing to help Romanian pilots effectively transition to piloting advanced fighters such as the F-16. The machines are also expecting to have limited capabilities to counter air and ground targets.

The program is a logical continuation, aimed at further increasing these possibilities and adapting analog aircraft to training on the digital F-16. According to the original plan, this is expecting to lead to the 2022 test flight of the IAR 99 TD version prototype, but COVID may cause some delays. Work-related to the aircraft’s modernization is carried out over the next four years by the Avioane Craiova plant.

Currently, the Romanian air force has 20 IAR 99 aircraft, 10 of which represent the IAR 99 Soim training and combat variant, modernized in the late 1990s, also in cooperation with the Israeli Elbit company. As a result of the modification, the aircraft gained more expansive combat capabilities and newer avionics in line with the MiG-21R Lancer standard, which was also “Westernized” in cooperation with the Israeli aviation industry.

Romania will modernize its F-16 fighter jets

The US State Department has approved the sale of modernization packages and work on the Romanian F-16 multi-role aircraft, as we reported on November 5. 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.

Read more: Dogfight! F-16 Fighting Falcon vs. MiG-29/35 Fulcrum – who is better?

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.

Read more: Romania purchased Patriot missile defense systems from the US

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