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Dobritoiu: Romania to pay around 600 million dollars over five years for 12 second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Portugal

Minister of National Defence Corneliu Dobritoiu told Agerpres that the 12 multirole combat aircraft Romania is to purchase 'second-hand' from Portugal cost about 120 million euros out of the total of 670 million euros which is the total value of the contract. The difference between the figures goes to logistic support, which 'would have been the same if we had purchased new aircraft,' says the minister.

'Out of the 670 million euros representing the value of the contract, only about 120 million euros go to paying for the aircraft, the rest being logistic support, which would have been the same if we had purchased new aircraft. The first payment will be made next year, with the rest of the instalments being distributed each year for five years, releasing pressure from the budget,' showed Minister Dobritoiu.

The minister said the aircraft updated at Block 40 standard will be delivered for usage to the Romanian Army after 2016 and the preparation of pilots will be made in two stages, the first in Portugal and the second in the US. The aircraft have average flight resources of 4,500 hours of flight meaning that the usage period will be minimum 20 years, says the minister.

'If we had not made this decision now, we would have been in danger of not being able to perform our mission of air patrol, an obligation taken the moment we joined the NATO. That is because the MiG 21 LanceR aircraft are towards the end of their flight resources, a process that has already happened, there are a lot of aircraft which have already been taken out of usage but the annual peak will gradually consume starting with 2013. Maintaining some MiGs means that the operation costs are higher than benefits, as an aircraft getting into its final days requires higher expenses to maintain it to flight conditions,' Dobritoiu said.

Minister of National Defence added that the solution to appeal to other NATO member states to secure Romania's airspace, similar to that used by the Baltic states, would have been 'unacceptable' for Romania.

'Firstly, the moment we joined the NATO, our country pledged to secure its combat service air police. No state in the history of the Treaty assuming such obligation has ever requested the Alliance or another state to provide its combat service. The expenses, in case a third party country had provided the service for Romania, border country for both the EU and the NATO, would be huge (as we would have to pay training, daily expenses and other salary benefits to pilots, along with the maintenance costs). Nota bene: the Baltic states did not have air force the moment they joined the NATO, therefore their situation bears no comparison to us, who risked to lose this major force, if a decision had not been made, even in the eleventh hour, like now,' added Dobritoiu.




Monday, October 1, 2012