David Oliver – Romania’s leading MRO provider Aerostar is planning to transform its military business that in 2017 amounted to only 17 percent of its turnover.
The aim is to increase defence sales to 25 percent in 2019. In the past Aerostar’s defence activity centred mainly on the MRO of the Romanian Air force’s LanceR fleet, including airframes, avionics and engines, as well as the small fleet of Yak-52 basic trainers that were all built by Aerostar.
Grigore Filip, president and general director of Aerostar told Armada International that the export market for MiG-21 overhauls has diminished due to the international trade sanctions on Russia which has constrained the supply of spare parts particularly of engine components for the R-13-300 turbojets. “We will not take on contracts we cannot fulfill.”
“In future our focus will be less on export customers and almost entirely on new equipment being introduced for the Romanian Armed Forces. The first subject will be the long-term development of an MRO centre for the new fleet of F-16s being delivered to the Romanian Air Force. At the end of 2018 the government passed legislation for Aerostar to be selected to build a programme to Air Force requirements and subject to Lockheed Martin approvals and certification. It will be a step by step process and a long time before we make any money from the programme.”
With nine former Portuguese Air Force F-16A and three F-16B aircraft delivered to date, which were subject to mid-life updates (MLU) by OGMA in Portugal, the Romanian Air force has a requirement for at least 36 in the long term.
Grigore Filip said, “The Air Force will have more because the F-16 will be the most important aircraft in its inventory when it replaces the LanceR. At the time the LanceR programme was launched in 1990 for 110 upgraded MiG-21s, it was for a decade. Now 25 years after the prototype first flew, Aerostar is proud that it has succeeded in continuing to maintain and service the aircraft for the air force to carry out the missions and training it was designed for. Even if it is old, the fleet availability is good, a performance we can be proud of and our plan is to provide the same level of support to the F-16 fleet in the future.”
by David Oliver