Lockheed Martin has officially acknowledged the Romanian Air Force as a customer of the fourth-generation F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter aircraft at a reception preceding the 2014 Black Sea Defense Aerospace Exhibition in Bucharest, Romania.
Romania had signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) with the US Government in December 2013 for provision of programme support to a US-approved third party transfer of F-16 aircraft from Portugal to Romania.
The agreement covers delivery of a total of 12 F-16 Block 15 mid-life upgrade (MLU) fighters to Romania starting from 2016.
Lockheed is responsible for design, integration and provision of support for the installation of updated F-16 software.
Lockheed Martin F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group vice president and general manager Roderick McLean said the company will support Romanian aircraft fleet modernisation and also establish an enduring partnership as Romania revolutionises its aviation capabilities to strengthen its national defence.
The estimated €186.2m agreement envisions the supply of nine surplus Portuguese and three former US Air Force (USAF) F-16 fighters, additional engines, logistics support and personnel training, as reported earlier by IHS Jane.
Primarily intended to replace the Romanian Air Force's existing 49 Soviet Era-built MiG-21 Lancer fighter fleet, the F-16s will also increase the country's interoperability with Nato forces, and its contribution to these forces.
Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F-100-GE-129 turbofan engine, the F-16 was initially designed as an air superiority day fighter, but later evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft for precise delivery of ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions.
Lockheed has to date supplied more than 4,540 F-16 fighters to customers worldwide, and expects to continue the production until 2017.
The aircraft is currently operational with the air forces of Israel, Egypt, New Zealand, South Korea, Chile, Poland, UAE, Bahrain, Greece, Singapore and the US.
Image: Lockheed Martin F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group vice president and general manager Roderick McLean and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta at the reception in Bucharest, Romania. Photo: courtesy of Silviu Pavel.