Romanian LanceRs at Lossiemouth
In July 2005 four Mig-21 LanceRs of the Fortele Aeriene Romane (Romanian Air Force) were on squadron exchange with 14 Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth. This visit was the first time that these former Cold War relics had been seen at the Scottish base.
Sťan Wilson reports.
The sight of Mig-21s in the skies above Lossiemouth was something that I never thought I would see but on Monday 4th July they appeared. The recent expansion of NATO to include Romania, as well as several other former Eastern Block countries, is undoubtedly what makes such a visit possible. The Migs were actually on a mini-tour of Europe with this leg of the journey being for Exercise Dacian Wolf 2005. Initially they had stopped off at RAF Waddington to attend the annual airshow so a few quick phone calls later and we knew they were on their way.
Support in the form of an Antanov An-26 from the Baza 90 Aeriana de Transport unit based at Bucharest-Otopeni was the first to arrive. The Migs were from 861 Escadrila Aviatie Vanatoare, part of the Baza 86 Aeriana unit based at Borcea-Fetesti. LanceR-C (air-to-air) variants, versions of the Mig-21MF-75 that were upgraded in the mid-1990s under a programme referred to as "Lancer", they looked fantastic in their resplendent camouflage scheme. Grey and white on top and pale blue underneath, they certainly provided a welcomed break from the standard European grey on grey.
Typically they flew two sorties a day accompanied by based Tornados. Occasionally the sun even made an appearance. The camouflage scheme of the Migs was not the only thing that caught my attention. Anyone who has heard a Mig-21 will know what I mean - the afterburner literally explodes into life with a bang. Also of note was LanceR-C 5724 which flew with the Rafael Litening infrared navigation and targeting pod which provides pilots with day and night, all-weather strike capabilities. Dummy Matra R.550 Magic 2 air-to-air infrared homing missiles were also carried at various times throughout the exercise.
Next stop for the Migs was the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford followed by a refuelling stop in Belgium where I would have another opportunity to photograph them in glorious sunshine at the Kleine Brogel Spotters Day. 617 Squadron, also based at RAF Lossiemouth, will make a reciprocal visit to Borcea-Fetesti later this year.
Thanks to Scramble for providing the squadron details.
© Sťan Wilson 2005