It seems that the old MiG-21 has reached the end of the road. Today, 15.04.2022, the Romanian Ministry of Defense announced that all flight activities involving the MiG-21 Lancer aircraft have been suspended indefinitely. Most likely this comes after one MiG-21 Lancer crashed on March 3rd and another one had problems with the landing gear on April 12th. The planes have been in service with the Romanian Air Force for over 40 years and are at the end of their operational life, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. The Romanian Air Force has been talking about the retirement of the MiG-21 Lancer since 2018. The only problem was that there was no other aircraft to replace it. This changed when F-16 aircraft bought form Portugal became operational. Today Romania owns and operates 17 F-16, with 32 more coming in the near future from Norway.
The official announcement of the Romanian Ministry of Defense states the following:
MiG-21 Lancer Flight Activities Have Been Suspended Indefinitely
By order of the Romania Air Force Chief of Staff, General Daniel Petrescu, all flight activities involving the MiG-21 Lancer aircraft of the Romanian Air Force were suspended, starting with Friday, April 15th. The measure was taken due to a significant number of flight events involving MiG-21 Lancer, resulting in casualties, damaged or destroyed aircraft and in order to improve aviation safety, prevent future events and to reduce the risks associated with technical failures. After the grounding of the MiG-21 Lancer all flight missions and Enhanced Air Policing will be carried on by the Romanian Air Force with the F-16 fighter jets supported by NATO aircraft deployed in Romania. At the same time, measures have been taken to speed up the procurement of 32 F-16 aircraft from Norway. F-16 acquired from Norway will be operational for at least ten more years which will ensure an operational capability of transition to 5th generation aircraft F-35.
The official announcement can be found here.