The Romanian Ministry of Defense announced that all operations with the MiG-21 LanceR fighter jets were suspended starting April 15, 2022. The decision follows multiple incidents involving the aircraft.
From now on, pilots of the Romanian Air Force will only fly the 17 second-hand Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters, acquired from Portugal in 2016.
“At the same time, measures have been taken to speed up the procedures for the purchase of Norway’s 32 F-16 aircraft,” the Ministry wrote in a statement.
“The available resource of aircraft within the three squadrons of multifunctional F-16 aircraft, which will be operated by the Air Force, ensures their operation for at least 10 years and will constitute an operational air transit capability for the aircraft 5th generation F-35.”
The Romanian Air Force is supported in its airspace surveillance missions by allied nations as part of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing over Romania. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, additional fighter jets have been deployed to Romania.
Additional fighter jets have been deployed in #Romania by @NATO Allies safeguard & monitor the airspace. Check out below how Air Force F-16s & Eurofighter Typhoons perform an interception over the skies #WeAreNATO #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/X6xCWXO0G7— Romania at NATO (@RomaniaNATO) April 15, 2022
The Romanian Air Force has experienced multiple incidents involving the MiG-21 LanceR. The last took place on the evening of March 2, 2022. A MiG-21 LanceR fighter disappeared from radar screens shortly after taking off from the 86th Air Base located near Borcea, southeast Romania. The aircraft was in formation with another MiG-21 and was due to perform an air patrol mission. The MiG-21 wreckage was located near Cogealac and its pilot was pronounced dead.