A NATO member since March 2004, Romania is grounding its remaining fleet of MiG-21s over their high rate of accidents and intends to speed up an already planned purchase of the F-16s, Reuters is reporting.
The purchase is not connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which shares a 400-mile border with Romania. The country’s defense ministry said that the Romanian Air Force has a small fleet of F-16 fighter jets that it acquired from Portugal, which it will continue to fly.
More than 500,000 Ukrainians have fled to Romania since Feb. 24, 2022, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to cross the border. The U.S. has sent thousands of troops to Romania as part of a plan to bolster security for NATO member states that share a border with Russia.
Romania purchased its first batch of F-16 Fighting Falcons from Portugal in 2016 as part of a plan to phase out its Cold War-era MiG jet fighters. The country said it intended to ramp up the process to buy at least 32 more F-16s from Norway, providing them with enough jets and personnel to staff an additional two air squadrons, Reuters reported.
Romania’s defense ministry said the purchase of the additional F-16 jet fighters will provide them with sufficient air power as the country transitions to fifth-generation F-35 jets in the future, according to Reuters.