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Romanian Air Force

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Title: Romanian Air Force  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: RoAF 71st Air Base, Romanian Armed Forces, RoAF 90th Airlift Base, Aurel Vlaicu Flight School, Constantin Cantacuzino (aviator)
Collection: Air Forces by Country, Romanian Air Force
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Romanian Air Force

Romanian Air Force
Forțele Aeriene Române
The coat of arms and the identification flag
Founded 1 April 1913
Country Romania
Size 9,700 personnel[1]
Part of Romanian Armed Forces
Command HQ Statul Major al Forțelor Aeriene - Bucharest
Anniversaries 20 July[2]
Chief of the Air Force Staff Major General Laurian Anastasof
Military colors
Aircraft flown
Attack MiG-21 LanceR 'A', IAR-330 SOCAT
Fighter MiG-21 LanceR 'C'
Reconnaissance Antonov An-30, RQ-7 Shadow
Trainer MiG-21 LanceR 'B', IAR-99, IAR 316, Yak-52
Transport C-130 Hercules, C-27J Spartan, Antonov An-26, IAR-330L/M Puma

The Romanian Air Force (Romanian: Forţele Aeriene Române) is the air force branch of the Romanian Armed Forces. It has an air force headquarters, an operational command, four air bases and an air defense brigade. Reserve forces include two air bases and three airfields.

In 2010, the Romanian Air Force employed 9,700 personnel.


  • Current state 1
  • History 2
    • Beginnings 2.1
    • World War I 2.2
    • Golden Age 2.3
    • World War II 2.4
    • Cold War 2.5
    • Since 1990 2.6
      • 2007 Baltic Air Policing 2.6.1
  • Structure 3
    • Air Force Staff 3.1
    • Air bases 3.2
    • Reserve air bases 3.3
    • Units 3.4
      • Capu Midia range 3.4.1
  • Aircraft inventory 4
    • Future 4.1
  • Aircraft markings 5
  • Ranks and insignia 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Notes 8.1
    • Bibliography 8.2
  • External links 9

Current state

The Romanian Air Force modernized 110 MiG 21 LanceRs, in cooperation with Israel between 1993 and 2002. Today, 48 of these MiG 21 LanceRs are operational.[3] The Romanian Air Force also operates C-130 Hercules, C-27J Spartan, An-26s transport planes and IAR-330 Puma helicopters. IAR-330 PUMA SOCAT helicopters have been modernized by the Romanian Aviation Industry in cooperation with Elbit Systems (Israel) for attack missions. The Romanian Air Force also includes native-made IAR-99 Şoim jet planes, in general only used for training of the young pilots. The remaining MiG-29s have been removed from service in 2003.

Due to the old age of the MIGs, the Romanian Air Force is considering procurement of new fighters, or possibly used fighters as an interim solution. Romanian Defense Minister Corneliu Dobritoiu said his country aims to buy an undisclosed number of second-hand F-16A/B jet fighters from Portugal. Local media reported that Romania sought to buy used F-16s from the Netherlands, but the plan was eventually scrapped. In March 2010, Romanian President Traian Basescu told local media the government was considering the purchase of 24 second-hand F-16s from the U.S. for about $1.3 billion. In October 2013, a deal was finally agreed upon whereby Romania would buy 12 F-16 fighters from Portugal.[4]

In the spring of 2009, the Romanian government decided to purchase VSHORAD/SHORAD systems from France.[5] The deal included Mistral MANPADS and MICA VL surface-to-air missiles.[6] However, after preliminary talks with MBDA in August, the deal was put on hold and canceled afterwards because of the defense cuts.[7]

In February 2010, the Supreme Council of National Defense signed an agreement with the United States for missile defense under whose terms land-based SM-3 systems would be installed in Romania. On the 3rd of May 2011, the president of Romania Traian Băsescu announced the location for the SM-3 systems. They will be installed at the former Air Force base Deveselu in Olt County.[8] The system includes 3 batteries with 24 SM-3 Block I rockets, manned by approximately 200 US soldiers (with a maximum of 500) under Romanian Air Force overall command.

The current chief of the Romanian Air Force Staff, succeeding Major General Fănică Cârnu on 19 December 2013, is Major General Laurian Anastasof.[9]



A. Vlaicu Nr. I at military exercises 27 Sept. 1910.
A Blériot airplane of the Romanian military during the Second Balkan War.

Romania was one of the first countries in the world to use airplanes for military purposes.

On July 7, 1874, army colonel Nicolae Haralambie together with Ion Ghica and a third person perform a flight over Bucharest in a hydrogen balloon. The balloon, named "Mihai Bravul", flew for the first time on June 9 of the same year. Half a century earlier, in 1818, during the reign of Ion Vodă Caragea, a hot air balloon was flown off Dealul Spirii in Bucharest with no passengers on board.[10]

On November 20, 1909 the Chitila Piloting School was closed permanently towards the end of 1912.[11]

On November 1909, the Romanian Minister of War commissioned A. Vlaicu I aircraft to Aurel Vlaicu, who built it at the Army Arsenal in Bucharest. A. Vlaicu I first flew on June 17, 1910. That same year, on September 28, part of the Fall military exercise, Vlaicu flew his airplane from Slatina to Piatra Olt carrying a message, Romania thus becoming the second country after France use airplanes for military missions. During the Second Balkan War Vlaicu flew reconnaissance missions over Bulgaria, together with other fellow Romanian pilots. [12] [13] [14]

World War I

During World War I, Romania acquired 322 aircraft from France and Great Britain including: Nieuport fighters (types 11, 17 12, 19, 21, 23, 24 and 28), Farman reconnaissance and light bombing aircraft (types 40 and 46), and Breguet-Michelin heavy bombers. On September 16, 1916, a Romanian Farman F.40 shot down an Imperial German Air Force aircraft near Slobozia; this was the first victory in the history of the Romanian Air Force. By the end of World War I, Romanian pilots had achieved about 11,000 hours of flight and fought 750 air battles.

Golden Age

During the interwar period, the RoAF, second only to Poland among the future Warsaw Pact countries, had a powerful national aircraft industry which designed and produced all types of military and most civil aircraft. In particular the IAR 80 series were stressed-skin fighters, worthy to rank with the other single-seat fighters of WWII, and used in significant numbers on the Eastern Front.

The RoAF was reorganized during an 18-year period. Over 2,000 military and civil aircraft were built in Romania, based on native or licensed designs. The military aviation used IAR 80 fighters, which became famous on the Eastern Front, and bombers manufactured by IAR Braşov. Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Heinkel He 112 fighters, Heinkel He 111 and Junkers Ju 88 bombers, Junkers Ju 87 dive bomber, Junkers Ju 52 transport and Heinkel He 114 seaplanes were purchased from Germany in the interwar period.

World War II

A pair of IAR-80 fighters on patrol during World War II

When Romania, allied with Nazi Germany, went to war against the USSR, on June 22, 1941, the Romanian Air Force had 621 airplanes, including its native made fighter IAR 80/81. The air force accomplished hundreds of missions, contributing to Romania's recapture of Northern Bucovina and Basarabia, which had been occupied by the Soviet Union a year earlier. Until the Odessa episode, the Romanian military fighters gained 661 air victories. Romanian Military Aviation fought on the Eastern front until August 22, 1944, bringing an important contribution to the great battles in Stalingrad, Crimea, and the Ukrainian fronts. Between 1941-1944 Romanian aircraft won 2,000 air victories. The most famous flying aces were Captain Prince Constantin Cantacuzino, who gained 68 certified victories, Captain Horia Agarici and Captain Alexandru Şerbănescu, who shot down 60 enemy airplanes.

Cold War

A pair of Romanian MiG-21 fighters during late 70's.
Romanian Air Force MiG-29, currently retired and in storage since 2003.

Starting with 1948, Romania tailored its military to Soviet concepts and doctrine. On February 15, 1949, the Aviation Command was established based on the Soviet model (regiments instead of flotillas). New Soviet aircraft, such as Yakovlev Yak-18, Polikarpov Po-2, Lavochkin La-9, Tupolev Tu-2, and Ilyushin Il-10 entered service. A year later, 77 Yakovlev Yak-17s and Yakovlev Yak-23s entered the air force, and in 1952, other 88 aircraft: MiG-15 and MiG-17. In 1958, the first supersonic fighter MiG-19 entered the inventory. Three years later, in February 1962, a new fighter was added to the inventory, MiG-21, which represented one of the most effective fighters of that time.

Starting with 1974, Romanian-made aircraft supplemented the already existing jets. The Romanian IAR-93 subsonic aircraft flew its first flight on 31 October 1974. It represented a great step forward taking into account that it was the only jet fighter not made by the Soviets, the only one ever manufactured and operated by a Warsaw Pact country.

In 1962, the first helicopter subunits were established and followed later on, in 1965, by the first Soviet Mi-2 and Mi-4 helicopters. Renewing the aircraft fleet process went on, the first 12 MiG-23s entering the service between July–September 1979.

On 14 May 1981, at 20:16, Soviet spaceship Soyuz-40 was launched from Baikonur to perform a common Romanian-Soviet flight, with Lieutenant Dumitru Prunariu and Colonel Leonid Popov as commander on board. During the early 80's 67th Fighter-Bomber Regiment and 49th Fighter-Bomber Regiment from Craiova and Ianca were equipped with new IAR-93 attack aircraft which have replaced old MiG-15s and MiG-17s. In December 1989, just a few days before the Romanian revolution against communism began, MiG-29 aircraft had entered the Air Force inventory.

Since 1990

A pair of MiG-21 LanceR 'C's of the 71st Air Flotilla ready to take off in Lithuania.

2007 Baltic Air Policing

Four MiG-21 LanceR Cs were deployed from August 2007 to November 2007 at Šiauliai, in Lithuania for Baltic Air Policing. The Romanian detachment succeeded the French Air Force Mirage 2000Cs of Escadron de Chasse 01.012 from Cambrai, which fulfilled the Baltic Air Policing since May 2007. Once the RoAF finished its three-month stint, a Portuguese Air Force detachment took over the mission.[15]

The four aircraft and most of the staff came from the 71st Air Base. A total of 67 personnel, among them nine pilots, were part of the detachment: 63 served at Šiauliai, while other four served at the air traffic control centre in Kaunas, to ensure smooth cooperation with local authorities. The Romanian detachment attracted attention from the local media, not least from the fact that it was only the second time a fighter from the Soviet era deployed to Šiauliai - Polish Air Force MiG-29s have also been deployed there in 2006.[16]


Air Force Staff

Romanian Air Force IAR-330 SOCAT
Antonov An-26 landing at 90th Airlift Base.
MiG-21 LanceR 'B' of Romanian Air Force, arrives in support of the Partnership for Peace Exercise Cooperative Key 2003 at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria
IAR-99 Şoim
SA-2 M3 "Volhov" system launching a 5Ia23 missile at Capu Midia firing range.

The Romanian Air Force Staff represents the military concept-developing, command and executive structure providing Air Forces peacetime, crisis and wartime leadership in order to reach, maintain and increase, as required, the operational level of the military subordinated structures so that to be able to operate under authorized commands responsible for military operations planning and conduct.

Generate, mobilize, structure, equip, operationalize and regenerate the required forces, provide the logistic support necessary to conduct military operations and based on higher orders, take over both the Joint Operation Air Component and independent air operations command and control, through the Main Air Operational Center. Starting with July 1, 2010, the Romanian Air Force bases were renamed to Air Flotillas.[17]

Air bases

The Romanian Air Force has 5 active air bases:[18]

71st Air Flotilla - Câmpia Turzii

86th Air Flotilla - Feteşti

95th Air Flotilla - Bacău

  • 951st Fighter Squadron - operating MiG-21 LanceR A, B;
  • 205th School Fighter Squadron - operating MiG-21 LanceR B;
  • 952nd Helicopter Squadron - operating IAR-330L/M;

90th Airlift Flotilla - Bucureşti - Otopeni

  • 901st Strategic Transport Squadron - operating C-130H Hercules;
  • 902nd Transport and Reconnaissance Squadron - operating An-26, An-30 and C-27J Spartan;
  • 903rd Transport Helicopter Squadron - operating IAR-330L/M;
  • 904th Attack Helicopter Squadron - operating IAR-330 SOCAT;
  • 905th Attack Helicopter Squadron - operating IAR-330 SOCAT;

142nd Reconnaissance Squadron - Timișoara - Giarmata - operating Shadow 600 UAVs

Aurel Vlaicu Flight School - Boboc

  • 201st School Squadron - operating Yakovlev Yak-52;
  • 202nd School Squadron - operated Antonov An-2 until July 2010;
  • 203rd School Squadron - operating IAR-99 Standard;
  • 204th School Squadron - operating IAR-99 Şoim;
  • 206th School Squadron - operating IAR-316B Alouette III;

Reserve air bases

There are also 3 airfields included in the reserve forces.


Capu Midia range

The Capu Midia training camp and surface to air firing range provides firing training, execution and evaluation facilities. It is located in Constanţa County, 20 km north from the county capital, Constanţa.

Aircraft inventory

Aircraft Photo Origin Type Versions In service[19] Notes
Fixed-wing Aircraft
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon  United States Fighter Aircraft F-16AM/BM Block 15 MLU 0 12 on order from Portugal. To be delivered by 2015-2016. Chief of the Romanian armed forces declared its intention to buy 12 more to equip a second squadron.
MiG-21 LanceR  Soviet Union Fighter Aircraft MiG-21 LanceR A 36[20] ground attack[21]
Trainer Aircraft MiG-21 LanceR B
Fighter Aircraft MiG-21 LanceR C air superiority[21]
An-30 Clank  Soviet Union Reconnaissance Aircraft An-30 2[20] aerial cartography for Treaty on Open Skies.
C-27J Spartan  Italy Cargo/Transport Aircraft C-27J 7[1]
C-130 Hercules  United States Cargo/Transport Aircraft C-130H 4[20]
An-26 Curl  Soviet Union Cargo/Transport Aircraft An-26 4
IAR 99 Şoim  Romania Trainer Aircraft IAR-99
Yak-52  Romania Trainer Aircraft Yak-52 12[1] licensed built Yak-52 by Aerostar
IAR 316 Alouette III  Romania Training Helicopter IAR-316 6[1] a squadron remains operational with the training unit at Boboc
IAR 330 Puma  Romania Utility Helicopter IAR-330 35[1]
Attack Helicopter IAR-330 SOCAT 22[1]
RQ-7 Shadow  United States UAV Shadow-600 7 11 initially, 4 crashed (1 in country, 3 in Iraq)
Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk  United States Reconnaissance Aircraft Block 40 5 NATO AGS.
S-60  Soviet Union anti-aircraft gun CRT 1RL-35M1 250 Will be replaced with SHORAD systems. Still used for training as of 2010.
MIM-23 Hawk  United States surface to air missile Hawk XXI 224 8 batteries[1]
S-75 Dvina  Soviet Union surface to air missile S-75 M3 "Volhov" 6 batteries;[1] 18 or 20 initially delivered by USSR between 1963–1967, modernized three times since then.[22] Towed by Soviet era ZIL 131 trucks
AN/FPS-117  United States radar AN/FPS-117E (T) 5 3-dimensional air search radar; in service since 1998
P-18 radar  Soviet Union radar P-18 2-dimensional air search radar; in service since 1977; mounted on Ural-375D chassis
P-37 Bar Lock  Soviet Union radar P-37 Bar Lock 2D E band/F band radar; in service since 1975
TPS-79  United States
radar TPS-79(R) 19 3-dimensional air search radar.[23] in service since late 2004. Towed by DAC 665 T utility truck
PRV-13  Soviet Union Radar altimeter PRV-13 In service since 1978


  • Romania has signed the contract that will bring 12 F-16 AM/BM block 15 MLU from Portugal to form a squadron, with the first aircraft arriving in 2015-2016. The government has also mentioned that it is interested in buying another batch of planes to equip a second squadron.[24][25][26]

Aircraft markings

The Romanian roundel has the same colours as the Romanian flag. The innermost circle is blue, followed by yellow, and then red. It is placed on Romanian Armed Forces vehicles and Romanian Air Force aircraft.

Ranks and insignia

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2010, page. 158
  2. ^
  3. ^, ("Battle of giants for the Romanian Air Force")Bătălia giganţilor pentru aviaţia militară românească, from Ziua, November 7, 2005
  4. ^ "Romania Finally Settles on Portuguese F-16s"
  5. ^ Romania reveals VL MICA order, SURFACE-TO-AIR
  6. ^ Cer Senin Magazine, nr. 3/2009, page 10
  7. ^ Defense under external pressure
  8. ^ Băsescu announces the location of the US rockets
  9. ^
  10. ^ (in Romanian)The first hot air balloon flight in WallachiaH. Salcă
  11. ^ Gheorghe Negrescu on
  12. ^ Istoria Aviatiei Militare Romane II
  13. ^ Istoria Aviatiei Militare Romane III
  14. ^ Momente din Istoria Aviatiei Militare Romane
  15. ^ Air Forces Monthly, November 2007 issue, p.36.
  16. ^ Air Forces Monthly, November 2007 issue, p.37.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ World Air Forces 2013"., 11 December 2012.
  20. ^ a b c "World Air Forces 2013". Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  21. ^ a b (Romanian) "MiG 21 on RoAF"
  22. ^ Romanian Air Force
  23. ^ Gap Filler (
  24. ^ "Romania to buy second-hand F-16 fighter jets"
  25. ^
  26. ^


  • Bernád, Dénes. Rumanian Aces of World War 2 (Aircraft of the Aces 54). Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-84176-535-X.
  • Bernád, Dénes. Rumanian Air Force: The Prime Decade, 1938-1947. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc, 1999. ISBN 0-89747-402-3.
  • Crăciunoiu, Cristian and Roba, Jean-Louis. Romanian Aeronautics in the Second World War, 1941-1945 (bilingual Romanian/English). Bucureşti, Romania: Editura Modelism International Ltd, 2003. ISBN 973-8101-18-2.

External links

  • Official site of the Romanian Air Force
  • Official site of the Romanian Ministry of National Defense (MoND)
  • Order of Battle of the RoAF
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