Romania - Air Forces

Air Force peacetime missions are designed for maintaining the national airspace integrity and protecting vital objectives against air attacks. In order to accomplish these tasks and to keep Romania's airspace secure air surveillance and air policing functions are performed. In conflicts and wartime, the Air Forces extend their tasks to protection of population , vital objectives and troops against air attacks, inflicting maximum losses on the enemy air forces using wearing-out strategy and participating in creation of favorable air situations.

Forces sub-system includes all the Air, Land and Naval Forces structures specialized in air defense operations and designated to detect, track and identify air assets, as well as to intercept and fire the hostile ones. The following formations are designed to carry out enemy air assets firing: fighter sub-units, GBAD, SAM and EW large units, units and sub-units belonging to Air and Land Components, EW structures and ship-to-air systems onboard with the Naval Force ships.

The Air Forces contain all fixed wing and rotary wing aircrafts. It also has organic air defense assets for airfield protection. Restructuring has focused on eliminating older and less capable aircrafts and upgrading the MIG-21 with a fourth generation cockpit. A squadron of IAR-330 "SOCAT" attack helicopters has also been created. The new Air Forces' Air Sovereignty Operations Center has also achieved initial operational capability.

In 1989 the Romanian Air Force had approximately 32,000 personnel and, because of the high technical qualifications required of them, less than one-third were conscripts. The air force operated more than 350, mostly Soviet-built, combat aircraft. It also had responsibility for transport, reconnaissance, and rotary wing aircraft as well as the national air defense system. The air force's primary mission was to protect and support the ground forces in defending the country against invasion. It also had a major role in operating, maintaining, and supplying trained personnel for the national airline TAROM.

The air force was divided into three tactical air divisions. Each air division had two regiments with two or three squadrons of interceptor and one squadron of ground attack aircraft as well as supporting transport, reconnaissance, and helicopter elements. With a few notable exceptions, most aircraft in the Romanian order of battle were designed and produced in the Soviet Union. The air force had fifteen interceptor squadrons, three with fifteen MiG-23 fighters each and twelve with similar numbers of MiG-21 fighters. Romania received its first MiG-23s from the Soviet Union in the early 1980s, nearly ten years after the plane entered service in Soviet and some other Warsaw Pact air forces. Soviet allies in Third World countries such as Syria, Libya, and Iraq had the MiG-23 in their inventories before Romania did.

Romanian fighters carried the 1960s-era Soviet AA-2/ATOLL air-to-air missile. The air force had six ground attack squadrons operating eighty-five 1950s-era MiG-17 aircraft made in the 1950s, which had been modified and transferred from duty as interceptors when Romania acquired the MiG-21, and thirty-five Romanian-built IAR-93 Orao ground-attack fighters. In 1989 the air force had an additional 125 Orao close air-support aircraft on order.

Transport, reconnaissance, and helicopter squadrons supported the ground forces by airlifting ground forces units, collecting intelligence on the composition and disposition of hostile forces, and conducting medical evacuation, mobile command, and utility functions. In 1989 Romania had eleven An-24, eight An-26 (both smaller than the United States C-130 transport), and several other Soviet transport aircraft, as well as four Polish Li-2 and two American-made Boeing 707 transports. Using its total lift capability, however, it could transport only the men and equipment of one airborne battalion. Reconnaissance squadrons operated twenty Soviet Il-28 aircraft built in the 1950s.

Helicopter squadrons operated fifty-five IAR-316B Allouette III and forty IAR-330 Puma helicopters produced in Romania under French license and twentyfive Soviet Mi-4 and Mi-8 helicopters. Helicopter squadrons directly supported the ground forces by providing enhanced mobility and fire power for small units. The air force had a large pilot training program, which reflected an apparent intention to develop increased capabilities. In 1989 it had sixty Czechoslovakianproduced L-29 and L-39 jet training aircraft, twenty older Soviet MiG-15 trainers, and a small but growing inventory of Romanianbuilt trainers.

The fourteen interceptor squadrons of the air force were the first line of defense in the country's air defense system. The air force also controlled the ground-based air defense network of 135 SA-2 surface-to-air missiles, early warning radar, and command, control, and communications equipment dispersed among twenty sites around the country. The national military command authority in Bucharest and in the country's oil-producing region around Ploiesti were the areas best protected against air attack. In 1989 Romania still depended on the Soviet Union to supply all of its air defense weapons and equipment.

Program Force 2003

Air Forces

  • 1 ASOC
  • 6 Air Combat Squadrons
  • 6 Combat Element Squadrons
  • 1 Air Transport Flotilla
  • 1 Air Defense Brigade
  • 1 Air Defense Regiment
  • 2 Air Bases
  • 2 Training Bases
  • 1 Radio Relay Center
  • 3 Signal Regiments

Low Readiness [Territorial]

  • 2 Air Division HQs
  • 1 SAM Regiment
  • 1 Engineer Regiment
  • 2 Training Squadrons
  • 2 Air Training Bases

According to the 2006 Military Strategy of Romania, the Air Forces are responsible for defending state sovereignty within the national space in order to gain and maintain control over the air space and to support from the air the operations of the land or maritime forces. They will be included, mainly, in the category of surveillance or reaction forces, and will include within the active forces an operational command, 2 air division commands, 4 air bases and 2 air defense brigades. As reserve forces they will have 2 air bases and 2-3 airfields. The transformation of the air force is based on the aim of reducing force levels, streamlining command and control, and creating more flexible, sustainable, better trained and interoperable forces.

In accordance to Allied Joint Movement and Transportation Doctrine (AJP-4.4), Romania is responsible for providing the necessary airlift, sealift, and land transport capabilities to deploy and sustain its forces participating to NATO military operations. To implement this provision, Romania adjusted its national legislation and signed agreements to contract the necessary airlift capabilities.

As of 2006 the Romanian Air Force had limited available airlift fleet. Four C-130 were in the Air Force inventory of which two were operational. The deployment time for troops, equipment, and material using these assets is considerable, even though Romania had other NATO noninteroperable military transport airframes (AN-24). To increase the airlift capabilities, the MOD ratified protocols with two Romanian airline companies, TAROM-SA and ROMAVIA-RA. Their availability and response time is still limited. Deployment and redeployment of personnel to Afghanistan were conducted with C-130 and required 10 sorties for one infantry battalion (405 troops). In Iraq, the same operation was conducted with chartered flights and it required about the same number of sorties.

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