Romania to operate 12-strong F-16 fighter squadron

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Romania will operate a 12-strong squadron of F-16 multirole fighters purchased from Portugal, which will start service in 2017 when the flight resource of the current MIG 21 Lancers will expire, Minister of National Defence Mircea Dusa said on Monday.

"A special point in our talks [with the Portuguese counterpart] was related to the development of the program for equipping the Romanian Army with an F-16 squadron. Talks are currently being held at technical level. By the end of May, we will probably finalize documents with the Portuguese party and subsequently, until September — with the American party, so that we resume the multirole aircraft equipping program at the scale of a squadron, ie 12 planes. When negotiations will have been completed, we will also tackle the amounts to be paid. This package also includes the training of the pilots, maintenance, upgrading and everything else. We will be able to use the planes when the flight resource of the MIG 21 Lancers expires. Then we will also have an air police squadron flying multirole aircraft, somewhere around 2017," said Mircea Dusa.

Romania and Portugal have a deadline this June to complete negotiations on the acquisition by the Romanian side of used F-16 aircraft.

Minister of National Defence Mircea Dusa paid last Tuesday an official visit to Portugal at the invitation of his counterpart, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, with whom he discussed the acquisition by Romania of F-16s from Portugal.

Minister Dusa conveyed to the Portuguese officials Romania's interest in developing cooperation on Air Force training, internships and technical support.

On the same occasion the parties discussed subjects such as "Post-2014 Afghanistan', the Chicago Summit, the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. AGERPRES

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