Romania, Netherlands, Lockheed Martin agree to establish F-16 pilot training center

U.S. Air National Guard photo

The Ministry of National Defense of Romania, the Defence Ministry of the Netherlands, and Lockheed Martin signed a Letter of Intent establishing a F-16 Pilot Training Center in Romania.  

The ceremony took place during the Informal Meeting of the EU Defence Ministers held in Toledo, Spain, on August 29, 2023. The facility will be established at the Romanian Air Force 86th Air Base in Borcea, Romania. The Royal Dutch Air Force is set to deploy a number of F-16 aircraft to the base. Flight instructors and technical personnel of Lockheed Martin, the fighter jet manufacturer, will provide technical support. 

“Through this center, Romania commits to provide a high-quality training environment, with access to technical resources and state-of-the-art know-how not only for the Romanian pilots, but also for those from the Allied and partner states, including Ukraine,” Romanian National Defense minister Angel Tîlvăr commented.  

To retire the aging MiG-21 LanceR fighters that formed the core of Romania’s fighter fleet, the country has procured two sets of pre-owned Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters. These acquisitions involved obtaining 17 aircraft from Portugal in 2016 and an additional 32 from Norway in 2022. 

Romania is also part of the international coalition to help Ukraine procure F-16 fighters. On August 20, 2023, Denmark and the Netherlands both pledged to deliver their respective fleet of fighters, followed by Norway four days later. The United States will also assist by training Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 from September 2023.  

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