Bacau, Romania-based Aerostar is nearing the end of a program to bring eight Mozambique Air Force MiG-21 fighters back to life after some 20 years in storage. The company is best known today for its commercial MRO and aerostructures business. But the latest MiG work follows Aerostar’s previous contract to upgrade 110 Romanian air force MiG-21s to the Lancer standard, with new avionics designed by Elbit Systems.
During a June 10 visit to Bacau AIN was able to see the last two of the eight that are scheduled to be delivered by the end of June (a pair of two-seaters were delivered first, followed by one single-seater, and the other three are en route to Africa). The work has involved avionics and systems upgrades, and relifing of the airframes. The upgrades to the Mozambique aircraft are not as comprehensive as those for the Lancer, but they will give the African country a new fighter capability at a fraction of the cost of new aircraft offered in the market today. Sava Mirza, Aerostar manager military aviation MRO and upgrades, told AIN the contract includes “development, design and testing—from concept to execution.” The Mozambique contract also includes an upgrade to an L-39 jet trainer plus training and support.
Aerostar currently supplies Airbus with landing-gear assemblies, as well as the entire landing gear for the Daher-Socata TBM 850/900 single-engine business turboprop, via Messier-Dowty-Bugatti of France. It also has a second maintenance hangar, opened in June 2012, to expand the commercial aircraft MRO business. Alexandru Filip, Aerostar business development director, told AIN that “49 percent of sales now come from civil production and, in 2013, 18 percent was [civil] MRO.”
The Romanian Lancer fleet is now being recycled through the Bacau factory one-by-one, for airframe relifing. Aerostar president and general director Grigore Filip, who was the manager in charge of the Lancer upgrade in the 1990s, said “based on our experience with Eastern platforms such as the MiG-21 and L-39, and our expertise in new navigation systems, our plan is to offer this expertise and experience for future-generation aircraft. “ He added that “these are aircraft that have flown few hours and it’s a good platform, not much affected by corrosion.”