Norway Begins F-16 Deliveries To Romania
Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters have taken off from Norway for delivery to Romania, helping to enable a rapid expansion of the Eastern European country’s frontline fleet.
Three F-16s of the 32 purchased by Romania left the Rygge airbase near Oslo on Nov. 28 following upgrade and maintenance by Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services to prepare them for Romanian service.
The first deliveries come almost two years since Bucharest made a request to purchase the F-16s, which were withdrawn from Royal Norwegian Air Force service in December 2021 with the introduction of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Bucharest had sent out requests for information to several European allies on the availability of secondhand F-16s in 2019, with the Norwegian proposal being deemed the best solution. Arrangements for the transfer included obtaining approval from Washington, which was finally secured in June.
“The sale of the F-16 will strengthen and modernize the defense of Romania, an allied nation along NATO's eastern flank, which is also a neighboring country to Ukraine,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.
The deal—Norway’s largest disposal agreement for military hardware—also includes spares, support equipment and technician training.
Norway was one of the four European Participating Air Forces that purchased the F-16 during the 1980s—along with Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands—and was one of five nations to put their aircraft through a mid-life update program, bringing the Block 15-model F-16s up to a similar capability as the later Block 50/52 model.
Delivery of the fighters to Romania will continue through to 2025, giving the country time to build pilot and technician competence, Norwegian officials said.
The newly established European F-16 Training Center at Romania's Fetesti airbase, which is designed to instruct Ukrainian pilots on the type, will also serve as the training ground for Romanian fliers. Instructors at the center are provided by OEM Lockheed Martin.
The Romanian Air Force already operates 17 F-16A/B models acquired from Portugal. The additional 32 fighters—equivalent to two squadrons' worth—are set to replace the Mikoyan MiG-21 Lancer fleet, which was withdrawn from use in May.
Romania sees the F-16s as an interim platform and is already eyeing an acquisition of F-35s during the 2030s.