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Romania could procure second hand F-16 from Portugal or the Netherlands

Minister of Defense Corneliu Dobritoiu told Agerpres, after a meeting with the reserve military that a team of specialists will go to the Netherlands and Portugal to assess the technical condition of some F-16 type aircraft that Romania might procure for the Army.

'We will assess the jets, to see if they are technically up to our requirements, their upgrading needs, the cost and if we can afford them, or not. The assessments are made in Portugal and the Netherlands', Dobritoiu said.

He admitted that Romania could buy F-16s from the Portuguese or the Dutch, arguing that Romania's strategic goal should be getting the fifth generation jets 'at minimal costs''.

'Anyway we do not have money to transition to new jets. And then this decision would have an effect on a time interval of 40 to 50, even 55 years because for a new fifth generation jet the life cycle is up to 35-40 years', explained the Minister of Defense.

Initially, Romania announced its intention to procure 'second hand' F-16 from the U.S. Air Force, but now it considers the procurement of the same type of aircraft, but from other countries.

'Anything is possible. All options remain open. We seek the most beneficial option in terms of price-quality ratio for a fifth generation jet', the Minister of Defense added.

Mark Gitenstein, the U.S. Ambassador to Bucharest, said, on May 18, that the Romanian army should pass to a new generation of aircraft. He said that the governments of the two countries steadily discuss about the procurement by Romania of F16 aircraft , an obstacle in this respect being the very high cost, adding that it is not the need to be new aircraft, but upgraded. He stressed that the initial demand for the U.S. to consider selling the planes came from Romania and the Romanian Government and, also, that the upgraded planes could be a solution. Asked if the talks on F16 procurement are 'frozen', the U.S. official replied that discussions on the subject have been held throughout his term.

At the same time, the head of state recalled, on December 16, in the meeting of the Supreme Council of National Defence (CSAT), that in 2015 the combat aircraft of the Romanian Army exhaust their resource and the procurement of a number of 48 jets is needed, set to cover Romania's contribution to NATO, but also for own territory defense.