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Romanian International Air Show (RoIAS 2006)
Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base
Constanta, Romania

July 29-30, 2006
A New Romania
Romania does not host many international air shows, the last was also at Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) Air Base in August 2001, so I was very keen to see what Romania had to offer. Romania a NATO member since March 29, 2004 has been very keen to join the European Union for sometime now. The Romanian Air Force (RoAF) has had to restructure itself since the end of the 'Cold War' and the fall of President Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989. Many of it's bases which bristled with MiG fighters have either closed or are dormant, littered with aircraft that are no longer in use. MK itself has a number of MiG-29 'Fulcrum' and MiG-23 'Flogger' in open store at the airfield. From 1995 Romania began upgrading its ageing MiG-21 fleet. By 2003 110 aircraft had completed there upgrades to become MiG-21 LanceR's in time for their admission into NATO.

Currently a reform plan named 'Objective Force 2007' is in operation, following on from 'Programme Force 2003'. Romania is working towards an optimum level of military hardware and personnel to take them forward within NATO and to be able to provide a rapid reaction force. Working with NATO Romania has a Membership Action Plan (MAP), which focused on increasing the interoperability, deployability and sustainability of its forces earmarked for peace-support operations. Romania is restructuring its military away from large, heavy Warsaw Pact-era forces toward smaller, light and more mobile units that will be better able to serve in NATO operations in the future.

The RoAF is now looking to replace its LanceR's further down the line and is looking at the Gripen, Eurofighter and Rafael. SAAB and a number of their Gripen's were on display at RoIAS and were used for testing leading up to the show, whilst unfortunately the other two contenders were absent. Alenia Aeronautica were demonstrating the C-27J Spartan at the show, as the RoAF are looking to buy the aircraft to replace the An-24, An-26 and An-30 transport aircraft by end of 2007.

Romanian International Air Show (RoIAS 2006)
The air show was impressive which, we were told at the press briefing, due to the work by 18 people over two years. The Government had authorised a two million euro budget to finance the event, including free entrance, unlike the previous show in 2001 when 67,000 people attended. Air Fleet General Ion Stefan, Director of RoIAS 2006, was keen to acknowledge that the 2006 show was built on the experiences gained in 2001. He also made a special tribute to our own Paul Bowen (RIAT) who passed away last year, who generously spent a week with the organisers helping them formulate their plans. We were told that 34 countries were invited and 20 were keen to attend.

RoIAS 2006 was billed as a celebration of 100 years of mechanical flight. Apparently a Romanian Traian Vuia performed the first mechanical flight 100 years earlier on March 18, 1906 at Montesson in France.
MiG-21 LanceR-C (5788) solo.
Following a mass flypast including four MiG-21 LanceR-As, a MiG-21 LanceR-C (5788) from Air Base 86 (Baza Aeriană 86) at nearby Borcea-Fetesti took off to perform a solo display.
Left to right: MiG-21 Lancer-A (8105) of Baza 95 Aeriană and IAR.109 Swift 7003/715).
Left to right: Yakovlev Yak-11 (YR-UAU) and Antonov An-2s (YR-PMR of Octopus Travel and YR-PBU of the Romanian Aero Club/Aeroclubul Romaniei).
The enthusiastic spectators serged forward when the Frecce Tricolori in their nine MB-339As took to the air. The Italian's also demonstrated the Alenia C-27J Spartan (MMCSX62127).
The Turkish Stars flying their eight NF-5As.
The Croatian Air Force display team 'Krila Oluje' (Wings of Storm) flying five Pilatus PC-9Ms. 
Left to right: Ex Serbian Air Force Soko G-2 Galeb (YU-YAG) of Belgrade Aero Club, Serbian Air Force Soko G-4 Super Galebs and Soko J-22A Orao (23638).
Left to right: A-10A Thunderbolt (81-0992 'SP') of 52 FW / 81 FS, Swedish Air Force Saab JAS-39C Gripen (39246/246) of Flygvapnet 17, French Air Force Mirage 2000C (16/5-OX) of EC02.005 and Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 (J-055).
Czech Air Force Mil MI-24V Hind (7353).
Display Team Support.
Left to right: Croatian Air Force Antonov An-32B (707), Serbian Air Force An-26 (71364), Spanish Air Force CN-295M (T.21-09/35-47) and Hungarian Air Force An-26 (110).
The Special Air Unit of the Department of the Interior and Administration ( Unitatea Speciala De Aviatie Politia) was set up in 1947. From 1973 the unit was based at Otopeni, on August 1, 2006 it moved to Bucharest-Banesa airport. The unit works in conjunction with the Police, the Military Police and the IGSU. It is tasked with the protection of visiting VIP's using air escorting of ground convoys, air support for ground protection forces and air reconnaissance. Border surveillance support and traffic or other any major incidents where the normal services require assistance.
Left to right: Eurocopter EC-135P2s (290 and 297) and Mil Mi-17 (108) all of the Special Air Unit of the Department of the Interior and Administration.

Mihail Kogalniceanu - Wrecks & Relics
In 1999 around ten MiG-23s were transferred from Mihail Kogalniceanu (Grupul 57) to Timisoara leaving five non-airworthy aircraft in open store. Timisoara has 28 MiG-23MFs and six MiG-23UB in open store since 2003 and the base is now closed. In 2003 the MiG-29s were withdrawn from service as the budget for a much needed upgrade could not be found, and the aircraft also went into open store.
Stored Romanian Air Force MiG-29 (33)
The MiG-29 Fulcrum was ordered by the Ceaucescu regime, the first four aircraft arriving just before its collapse in 1989. Eventually 17 single seat and five two seat MiG-29UBs were delivered. They flew operationally for the first time in 1990 with the 57th Fighter Regiment based at Mihail Kogalniceanu. With plans to join NATO it was decided to upgrade twelve aircraft to NATO standard. However in 2003 the Romanian Ministry of Defence reversed its decision and the MiG-29 was withdrawn from service. Air Base 57 (Baza 57 Aeriană) at Mihail Kogalniceanu was closed in April 2004.
The MiG-29s and MiG-23s in open store in the revetment area at the north eastern end of the airfield.
Left to right: MiG-29 Fulcrum's (69, 76 and 35).
Left to right: MiG-23 Flogger's (224 and 926).