Well over 11,000 MiG-21s were built in more than 20 variants worldwide. The fighter and interceptor jet entered service with Romanian Air Force in 1962. For over six decades it was the fighter aircraft that watched over Romania’s skies when the country was a non-aligned State. The delivery of the upgraded MiG-21 LanceR variant to the Romanian Air Force started in 1997.
With the accession to NATO in 2004, the upgraded MiG-21 LanceR contributed to NATO Air Policing in Romania for over a quarter of a century. From August to November 2007, Romania deployed four of their MiG-21 LanceR aircraft to lead NATO’S Baltic Air Policing mission in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
“I have been involved in NATO Air Policing since 2004 and I had the honour to be on Quick Reaction Alert duty the very first day when the Romanian Air Force started to conduct air policing mission under NATO command on April 1, 2004. Since then, we have flown many scramble missions, day and night, intercepting non-NATO military aircrafts over the Black Sea”, said retired Colonel Daniel “Tomcat” Moise, former 86 Operational Group Commander at Borcea Air Base.
In 2019, the Romanian Air Force began flying the MiG-21LanceRr alongside the F-16 for Air Policing missions. With the retirement of the MiG-21 LanceR from May 15 on, the F-16 fleet is taking over this duty and Romania has joined NATO’s F-16 user community.
“Four Romanian Air Force F-16s are currently again deployed in support of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission providing a critical contribution to deterrence and defence along the eastern flank,” said Colonel Cosmin Vlad, the commander of the Romanian ‘Carpathian Vipers’. “At Siauliai, Lithuania, the deployed F-16 detachment continues the tradition of the MiG-21 deployment in 2007 in an impressive display of Allied cohesion and solidarity and Romania’s commitment to the Alliance,” Colonel Vlad added.