Romanian MiG-21 Lancer Upgrade Program
The 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.