In a huge setback to Ukraine that was counting on procuring used F-16 jets from Norway, the U.S. on Friday approval sale of the same aircraft to Romania.
“The (U.S.)State Department has ….. approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Romania of equipment and services to modernize thirty-two (32) F-16 Mid-Life Update Block 10/15 aircraft to be procured through third-party transfer from Norway,” an official statement read.
The equipment includes KY-58M and KIV-78 cryptographic devices, AN/PYQ-10C Simple Key Loaders; Joint Mission Planning Systems; Night Vision Device (NVD) aviator vision systems and spare Image Intensifier Tubes; Electronic Warfare database support among others for an estimated cost of $105 million, the statement said.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today (Friday).
The proposed sale will improve Romania’s capability to meet current and future threats by bolstering its operational readiness while enhancing air and defense capabilities with a modernized fleet. Romania has F-16s in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft and equipment into its armed forces, the DSCA statement said.
Hopes dashed of Ukraine procuring Norwegian F-16s
Ukrainian President Zelensky has been lobbying hard to obtain F-16 fighters so that his air force can use a wide variety of NATO missiles and bombs. Current Soviet-era aircraft such as MiG-29 have to be modified to be able to carry Western-made weapons.
Washington has even said that it would have no objection to the sale F-16s provided they were not from U.S. stock. It has also approved the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets in countries such as Poland.
Ukrainian officials have made several visits to Norway to get them to part with their F-16s. However, Norway had stated that any transfer was subject to clearance from the U.S.