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The LanceR C Units; Mikhail-Kogelnichanu, September 17, 2015

The Romanian Air Force, part 6; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The MiG-21 LanceR C is the main variant of the LanceR series. This aircraft type is used for the air defense of Romania. There are two operational airbases in Romania where the LanceR C is stationed; these two airfields are Campia Turzii and Fetesti-Borcea. The reserve airbase for these two units is Mikhail-Kogalniceanu.

The main variant of the MiG-21 which is still in service at the Romanian Air Force is the MiG-21 LanceR C. This variant is operational in the air defense role. The LanceR C is used for the defense of the Romanian airspace in order to protect the country against unwanted intruders. In addition to this task of the air defense is the LanceR C also able to carry air-to-ground weapons. The camouflage pattern of the LanceR C consists of three tones of gray. The bottom of the LanceR C is like that of the other MiG-21 variants light blue for a minimal visibility. The first LanceR C would make its first test flight on November 6, 1996. This MiG-21 variant is by far the most advanced variant of the three LanceR variants. There were a total of 25 aircraft ordered of the LanceR C standard by the Romanian Air Force. However, due to a crash during the testing series at Aerostar of one of the MiG-21s, there was an additional aircraft converted to the LanceR C standard. The airframes which were used for the LanceR C update would include 25 MiG-21MF-75 airframes and one single MiG-21MF airframe. The LanceR C has a radar of the type Elta EL/M-2032 Doppler radar which is many times better than the Elta EL/M-2001b radar installed in the MiG-21 LanceR A. This Doppler radar has several air-to-air and air-to-ground modes to detect moving targets such as fighter aircraft and vehicles on a distance of 50 to 60 kilometers.

The update program of the LanceR C standard consisted of updating the existing airframe and a drastically electronics update. There were new weapons introduced during this update which could be carried under the wings. The weapon avionics update consisted of two MIL STD 1553B multiplex data busses. This system contains subsystems, such as a Modular Multirole Computer (MMC), a Display And Sight Helmet (DASH), a Head Up Display (HUD), two Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) with color, a Hybrid Navigation System, ILS/VOR/DME, a Marconi Air Data Computer (ADC), a VHF/UHF radio, a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and finally chaff and flare

dispensers. In contrast to the EL/M-2001b radar in the LanceR A and B, the Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar in the LanceR C has also look down and shoot down capabilities. Electronic pods which can be carried on the LanceR C are the Elta EL/L-8222R ECM pod for electronic countermeasures, the Rafael Litening Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and the Elbit/Aerostar Airborne Reconnaissance Pod. The LanceR C is also able to carry smart weapons such as the Rafael Griffin laser-guided bomb (LGB), Lizard LGB and Opher IR-guided bomb. The unguided bombs which can be carried under the LanceR C are cluster bombs such as the Mk 82, Mk 83, FAB-100, FAB-250, FAB-500, BEM-100 and CL-250. For the air defense role the LanceR C can carry several air to air missiles like the R-73, R-60, R-3S, R-13M, MBDA Magic II and Rafael Python 3.

The Romanian Air Force currently has two operational airfields and one reserve airfield where the MiG-21 is stationed. The first operational base is Baza 71 Aeriana Campia Turzii. This airbase is located in the northwest of Transylvania near the Romanian city of Cluj. The airbase is nowadays home to the 711th Fighter Squadron and is operational with the MiG-21 LanceR B and the MiG-21 LanceR C. Campia Turzii was built in 1952 and 1953 by the Romanian Air Force for the use of the Il-10. On June 30, 1982 a new air defense unit was formed at the airport in Caracal Deveselu which would fly the MiG-21M. This unit would form the basis for the 71st Fighter Regiment. The 48th Fighter Squadron was allocated to the 71st Fighter Regiment at Campia Turzii on June 30, 1986. As of June 9, 1987, Campia Turzii is operational with the MiG-21 “Fishbed”. The first LanceR Cs were delivered at Campia Turzii in January 2001. The aircraft came directly from the Aerostar factory and were completely overhauled. Campia Turzii was granted the status of modern integrated airbase from June 1, 2002. The Romanian Air Force was in this period significantly reorganizing its orbat. The airbase Baza 93 Aeriana Timisoara-Giarmata was closed in 2004 and the MiG-21 LanceR As of this airbase were transferred to Campia Turzii. The helicopters of Baza 58 Sibiu were moved to Campia Turzii too, because also this airbase was closed. Nowadays there is only one MiG-21 squadron stationed at this airbase, because the MiG-21 LanceR A unit was deactivated by the retirement of this type.

The second operational MiG-21 airbase of the Romanian Air Force is Baza 86 Aeriana Fetesti-Borcea. This airbase is located in the south east of the country between Bucharest and Constanta. At this airbase is the 861 Fighter Squadron stationed. The history of this unit begins on March 10, 1952 when it was founded as the 206th Tactical Fighter Regiment. From 1953, the unit moved to Ianca and started to fly the MiG-15 at that airbase. This did not last long, because in 1959 the unit moved again, this time to Otopeni in Bucharest. The unit started flying the new MiG-17 Fresco at Otopeni. As of August 9, 1958, the unit moved for the last time to Baza 86 Aeriana Fetesti-Borcea. The unit would fly from 1967 with the most advanced jet fighter of that time, namely the MiG-21F-13. Fetesti would also house a second unit which would fly the MiG-19 Farmer. From 1974, the MiG-21F-13s were replaced by the MiG-21MF. In 2000, the number of units expanded in Fetesti during a reform of the Romanian Air Force. The former 38th Reconnaissance Squadron which was flying the An-30 and the Harbin H-5 was stationed at this airbase until 2001. In the same year the former 57th Helicopter Squadron was integrated with the MiG units. The 861st Fighter Squadron was flying the MiG-21 LanceR C and the 862nd Fighter Squadron was flying the MiG-21 LanceR A and B. Like in Campia Turzii also here at Fetesti the unit which was flying the LanceR A was deactivated. The third MiG-21 airbase in Romania is Constan- ta/Mikhail-Kogalniceanu. This airbase is a reserve airbase and has no operational unit.

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