Romania can only afford in use F-16 jets: PM
Romania can only afford to buy F-16 combat jets currently in use due to budgetary constraints, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Friday.
“In my opinion, the only realistic option is to buy already in use aircraft”, Ponta told the foreign media in Bucharest.
The Netherlands and Portugal have offered to sell Romania F-16 jets, he added.
Ponta said he was favourable to a regional plan to buy new F-16s together with Croatia and Bulgaria but the option seemed “unrealistic at the moment”.
Romania had announced in March 2010 its decision to acquire 24 F-16 aircraft from the US air force at a cost of $1.3 billion (1.1 billion euros) to replace its ageing, Soviet-made MiG Lancer jets.
The announcement triggered criticism from European groups Eurofighter and Saab, which stressed authorities should have issued a call for tenders.
But a few months later, struggling with a deep economic crisis, the government announced it would not be able to finance the buy in 2010.
In September, President Traian Basescu admitted Romania could not afford the F-16 unless granted a long-term financing plan.
When joining NATO in 2004, Romania committed to equipping the armed forces with 48 fighter jets compatible with the Alliance’s.