Defense Minister in Portugal; sets steps for purchase of next five F-16 fighter jets

Minister of National Defense Nicolae Ciuca was in Portugal for a two-day official visit at the invitation of his counterpart, Joao Gomes Cravinho, to set the main steps for the strengthening of the Romanian Air Force F-16 multirole aircraft fleet by the purchase of the next five fighter jets, the Defence Ministry said in a release. In addition to the 12 aircraft already purchased, the Air Force will buy from Portugal four more F-16 Fighting Falcons this year and a fifth in 2021, said the Romanian minister. "It is a visit that complements the steps initiated several years ago, when Romania decided to create an air combat capability on the F-16 platform," DefMin Ciuca said, referring also to the consolidation of the Romanian air industry. "We haven't yet established the stages and technical phases for these developments. What has been established today is the general framework and the requirement that everything that happens next be targeted at the creation of this maintenance capability in the Romanian air industry," said the Defense Minister. He mentioned that Portugal's OGMA and the US Lockheed Martin have expressed their willingness to support the Romanian defense industry and that from the discussions coordinated by the Ministry of Economy, Aerostar Bacau and Romaero Bucharest have emerged as the possible locations for the maintenance works to be carried out in Romania. "For Romania, this will also materialize in the transfer of knowledge and technology to its defense industry, enabling it to start during this contract everything related to the technical procedures for modernizing both the aircraft to be purchased, and the already existing 12 planes. (...) With the acquisition of these five jets we will be able to develop a maintenance capability of these platforms in Romania and this will be done by continuing the cooperation with the Portuguese side and also with the direct involvement of Lockheed Martin," Ciuca said. Portuguese Defense Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho said that two F-16 aircraft will be handed over to Romania in June, another two - in October, and a fifth one early next year. Portugal and Romania share the same vision regarding the challenges and threats to NATO, said Joao Gomes Cravinho. In December last year Romania and Portugal signed the contract for the purchase of a new lot of 5 F-16 Fighting Falcons which complement the 12-strong fleet acquired over 2014 - 2017 and are part of the major 'Romanian Air Force multi-role aircraft' endowment program. AGERPRES (RO - author: Oana Ghiţă, editor: Florin Marin; EN - author: Simona Klodnischi, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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