‘Mission accomplished’: Romania says farewell to MiG-21 LanceR fleet

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Romania’s Air Force has retired the Soviet-era fighter jet to pave the way for the transition to the F-16.

A final take-off. The Romanian air force wished farewell to the MiG-21 LanceR fighter jets on Monday, after more than 60 years of service. The aircraft will be preserved at an Air Base in Bacău, in the east of the country.

The first MiG jets arrived in Romania in 1962. Since then, around 400 have flown for the Romanian Army.

Last year, the Country’s Supreme Defense Council decided that the MiG aircraft should no longer be used after they were involved in a number of tragedies. 

“For us, it will remain unique. For us, it built up the Romanian fighter pilot. As someone said a long time ago: it is the most beautiful aircraft vertically,” Cătălin Micloș said, a commander at Borcea 86 Air Base.

861st Fighter Squadron commander Mihail Zamfirescu announced: “Please allow me, as the last commander of the Lancer squadron in Borcea, to report: “Mission accomplished.”

Former MiG pilots also came to say their goodbyes.

“Despite all the opinions that it is a flying coffin, some others said it is a frying pan, we have done our job and I believe that it is the aircraft that put us into NATO,” former MiG pilot Daniel Moise said.

“The fact that this aircraft was in operation for over 60 years was thanks to those who loved it,” Simona Măierean added, who was the first woman pilot to fly a MiG-21 LanceR.

The first MIG jets arrived in Romania in 1962. Since then, around 400 have flown for the Romanian Army.

In the 1990s, more than 100 aircraft were upgraded to become compatible with NATO equipment. The LanceR was tasked with intercepting aircraft that violated Romania’s airspace

F-16s fighter jets are set to replace the Soviet-era MiGs, providing Romania’s military with a more modern and capable defence mechanism.