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.
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.