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Romania Suspends MiG-21 Operations

Lays Groundwork for F-16 Units to Assume Mission, Citing "High Rate of Accidents"

One of the remaining holdouts of the increasingly vintage fighter, Romania, has announced the suspension of all flight operations involving their MiG-21 Lancer fighters. 

The Ministry of Defense said that going forward, they will only operate the 17 hand-me-down F-16s acquired from Portugal. The change is the result of the type's "considerably high rate of accidents", according to the ministry. The MiG-21 has acquired a macabre infamy in those still operating the aged aircraft, piling up a yearly string of accidents around the world.

Recent Romanian losses include an aircraft crashing during a patrol flight last March, dropping off radar contact while on a formation flight. That crash was doubly tragic, as a search and rescue IAR 330 Puma, looking for the fighter's crash site, also crashed with 7 aboard. A similar crash occurred in India last December, capping off 2021 with 5 crashes involving a MiG-21. Romania's MoD has had enough, laying the groundwork to switch to the F-16 for their air patrol needs.

Along with the suspension, they hinted at a deal that would nearly double their Falcon fleet, saying “At the same time, measures have been taken to speed up the procedures for the purchase of Norway’s 32 F-16 aircraft."

“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 5th generation F-35 aircraft.” 

The draft law approving the acquisition has passed through the early stage of approval, and will soon make its way to parliament. 



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