As part of an ambitious 15 billion euros modernization plan, conceived in 2005, Romania should have replaced by now its aging fighter force with a new modern multipurpose aircraft. However, political difficulties, internal wrangling and the economic crisis of September 2008 have delayed these plans and threaten Romania’s ability to protect its airspace and fulfill its obligations as a NATO member.
The mainstay of the Romanian Air Force for almost forty years has been the Soviet built MiG-21 Fishbed, which has now become hopelessly outdated and needs replacement. A series of upgrades and overhauls in the mid 90’s have allowed the MiG-21 fleet to stay airborne until 2012 and maintain a decent degree of interoperability with other NATO partners. However the life expectancy of these air crafts is now almost over and they offer little military capabilities. Consequently in 2006 the Romanian Ministry of Defense decided to allocate 4.5 billion dollars to buy 48 new multipurpose fighters for the Air Force. The decision to buy these fighters should have been taken in 2008, but for political and economic reasons it has now been deferred most likely until 2010.