The Romanian Air Force (RAF) could have its first F-35 pilots in training in the U.S in seven years

S.I. Catalin |
Data actualizării: | Data publicării:
Foto: Forțele Aeriene Române
Foto: Forțele Aeriene Române

The Romanian Air Force could have its first F-35 pilots in training in the U.S. in 7 years, but only if the current plans are respected, said General Viorel Pana, head of the Air Force, exclusively for Romanian Television 1. For this to happen, the multi-billion dollar contract with Lockheed Martin should be signed this year.

The head of the Romanian Air Force says that if the timetable is adhered to now, in less than a decade we could see the first F-35s with tricolor cockpits.

,,The first Romanian F-35 aircraft should be flying, with Romanian pilots, for training in 2030. In America! The training of pilots and technical personnel should start even earlier and not only in America'', said General Viorel Pană, Chief of Staff of the Romanian Air Force, to journalist Adelin Petrișor.

The Romanian Air Force (RAF) wants to buy the F-35 A version. With its aerodynamic performance and advanced integrated avionics, the F-35A will provide a new generation of fighter aircraft for the Romanian Air Force (RAF).

For the moment, the Romanian aviation chiefs will not say how many planes will be contracted, so we cannot estimate the cost of this military procurement programme.

General Viorel Pana, Chief of the Air Force General Staff: If we are talking about figures, obviously I cannot give you a figure, but we are talking about three squadrons.

For example, Poland contracted 32 F-35 A jets a few years ago and is paying $4.6 billion for the whole package.


How many F-35s can Romania afford? The scenario of a mixed F-16 and F-35 fleet after 2030 is very plausible.


2. F-35, surs... (f-35-sua_27371100.jpg)

F-35 Lightning II, photo source: Lockheed Martin

Reserve General Mircea Mîndrescu, the first Romanian commander of NATO's Joint Analysis and Lessons Learning Centre (JALLC) in Lisbon, previously told DefenseRomania that the entire F-35 procurement process would have to be prepared by the book.

On 15 May 2023, the Romanian Air Force retired the aging MiG-21 from service. Romania recently purchased 32 F-16 Fighting Falcons from Norway for €388 million to ensure the transition to the F-35.

The 32 Norwegian F-16 AM/BM aircraft are in M6.5.2 configuration, and the contract also includes spare engines and logistical support.

The Romanian Air Force currently has a full squadron of 17 F-16 aircraft in M5.2R configuration, which will be upgraded to M6.6 configuration.

The F-35 programme will be implemented after 2030, by which time Romania will already have 49 F-16 aircraft.

However, the lifetime of the 32 Norwegian F-16s is limited to a maximum of 10 years. The 17 F-16s purchased from Portugal have a much longer lifespan, and are now half-life.


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