Israeli-Romanian Elbit-Aerostar team has completed the modernization of 102
upgraded MiG-21 Lancers. The ambitious modernization program, launched by
the government of Romania five years ago is nearing completion, with 8 more
aircraft in process. 100 of the aircraft are of the single seat M, MF and
BiS types, and 10 are of the two seater MiG-21U trainer configuration. Four
Romanian Air-Force bases are already operating the aircraft, which performed
over 30,000 sorties. Compared to a poor readiness level that yielded an
average of 30 hours per aircraft per year, the current utilization aircraft
is raised threefold, as more aircraft are operational and capable of flying,
even under weather conditions that previously limited such missions.
The Lancers have also
participated successfully in various NATO exercises. The modernized aircraft
demonstrated exceptional readiness levels, relative to their former status,
as well as to comparable NATO air forces. In such exercises, the Romanian
pilots could participate in the most sophisticated modes of operations, such
as laser designation of targets, and precision attacks -capabilities that
are yet to be acquired by NATO newcomers.
The Lancer fleet now constitutes the
backbone of the Romanian Air Force, performing air defense, close air
support and training roles. The aircraft can carry both Eastern and western
armament, and perform extremely accurate attacks with
both “iron bombs” and precision guided weapons. Lancer is cleared for
missiles such as the R60, R73 and Python 3 missiles, 250 and 500 lb bombs,
laser guided munitions, targeting,
ECM and Reconnaissance pods etc. The Lancer has demonstrated a circular
error point (CEP) accuracy of 7 mil/radian and below, while maintaining
1-2meter CEP with laser guided weapons. The aircraft is also cleared for
asymmetric loading of weapons, which provides a more flexible and economical
use of weapons. Among the 110 aircraft, 85 are configured for ground attack,
equipped with a ranging radar, while 25 are air defense variants, using the Elta EL/M-2032 air combat radar.
During the modernization process, the
Lancers were also equipped with new features to improve flight safety,
including support for night flight and all-weather operation with the use of
more advanced navigation equipment, such as VOR/ILS, INS and ADF. The pilot
can also fly “head-out”, with the use of helmet mounted display, and
improved cockpit man-machine interface.
The Lancer program is also augmented by
a comprehensive training and logistical support, including full motion
flight simulators, avionics trainers and additional systems.