October 31, 2005 (by Adi Vaknin) - Washington OKs deal between Romania and Israel; Bucharest will purchase dozens of F-16 aircrafts from Israel in a deal worth around USD 150 million.
Under a plan to overhaul its air force Romania has turned to Israel
for assistance. The East European country prefers to buy the most advanced fighter jets available on the market yet the price tag for the newest F-16 is likely to pierce a hole in Bucharest's pocket.
Romania has therefore decided to purchase older versions of the F-16 from the Israel Defense Forces, which is also replacing its F-16A and F-16B fleets with F-16I jets.
has set up a special committee to coordinate the various stages of what seems to be a complicated deal that will cost Romania an estimated USD 150 million.
Under the deal, Israeli contractor Elbit Systems will oversee the upgrading and maintenance of the fleet sold to Romania. Elbit is known to having updated MiG 21 fighters for the Romania air force in the past.
Other Israeli companies will also be contracted to upgrade Romania's old fleet with advanced Israeli-made systems.
Israel is hoping that the successful deal will open the gate for more deals with other countries. This is no straightforward business however. Israel needs Washington's approval for selling F-16 jets and other American-made military platforms.
The deal with Romania was approved by the American government and Lockheed Martin, the U.S. aircraft manufacturer, with no hurdles since Romania is a NATO
The U.S. refused to allow Israeli companies to upgrade fighter jets for the Venezuelan army in light of the political tension between Washington and Caracas.