WARSAW — Romanian Defense Minister Corneliu Dobritoiu said his country aims to buy an undisclosed number of second-hand F-16A/B jet fighters from Portugal, reported local news agency Agerpres.
“The machines are in a very good technical condition,” Dobritoiu said. Romania needs to acquire new jet fighters to replace its fleet of 49 Soviet-built MiG-21 Lancer jet fighters, the defense minister said. Dobritoiu said that without purchasing the F-16 aircraft, the Romanian Air Force would lose its combat capacity in about nine years.
The Romanian Air Force operates some 48 MiG-21 jet fighters.
The Romanian Ministry of National Defense has sent nine envoys to Portugal to evaluate the state of the aircraft with the assistance of U.S. experts, Dobritoiu said. The amount of the eventual deal was not disclosed by the defense minister.
Earlier this year, local media reported that Romania sought to buy used F-16s from the Netherlands, but the plan was eventually scrapped. In March 2010, Romanian President Traian Basescu told local media the government was considering the purchase of 24 second-hand F-16s from the U.S. for about $1.3 billion.
It is estimated that the Portuguese Air Force owns 45 F-16A/B jet fighters.