Lancer’s last flight

The Romanian Air Force has been flying MiG-21 models since 1962, the equivalent generationally of an American F-100 or F-105. While the Super Saber and Thunderchief have long ago been put to pasture, the old MiG-21 soldiered on, with Romania flying more than 400 in a half dozen different models over the past 61 years.

Well, that came to an end this week with the service sending off their final MiG-ul 21 LanceRs on Monday.

Modernized in cooperation with Israel between 1993 and 2002, the LancerR is arguably the most advanced MiG-21 ever fielded but its time has come and gone.

The 711th Combat Aviation Squadron at Câmpia Turzii was the final user.

Raportăm “Misiune îndeplinită!” și dăm ștafeta mai departe. Cer senin! (We report “Mission Accomplished!” and we pass the baton on. Clear sky!)

Romania now uses a squadron of 17 second-hand F-16AM/BM Block 15s (!) bought recently from Portugal, and signed a contract with Norway in November 2022 to another 32 additional 40-year-old F-16A/Bs for 388 million euros, to ensure the future transition to the new F-35 fighter jet. All of the RoAF F-16s are set to be upgraded to M6.5.2 operating configuration, with Kongsberg providing support.

The Romanians have proved fast learners to the Viper, with the first RoAF F-16s dispatched to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission having successfully scrambled to identify and escort two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers last month.

The Romanian Air Force F-16s deployed under NATO’s Baltic Air Policing, on April 7, 2023, conducted their first Alert Scramble out of Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. Photo by Romanian Air Force.

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