The first six of 12 Portuguese F-16 fighter jets sold by Portugal to the Romanian Air Force have been officially handed over.
The ceremony took place at the Monte Real Air Base in Leiria, in the presence of the Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, the Minister for Defence Azeredo Lopes, and his Romanian counterpart Mihnea Ioan Motoc.
The sale was signed in 2013 by the former Minister for Defence, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, for a total of €181 million, of which €163 million has already been paid to the Portuguese government.
The first half a dozen aircraft have arrived at their new home in Eastern Europe today. Three more will be handed over before the end of this year, with the final three being delivered in September 2017. Around 84 Romanian military including pilots, technicians and mechanics, have been undergoing training, which started in 2014 and will be ongoing until 2018, in preparation for taking receipt of the aircraft.
A Portuguese training team is also to be sent out to Romania for two years to provide support during the transaction. The sale of the F-16s is part of an overhaul of the Portuguese Air Force’s military programme in effect since 2006. News this week states the government is looking at the viability of selling an additional 12 F-16s to the Romanian Air Force on top of the 12 agreed in 2013. Romania has reportedly already made the request.