BUCHAREST: Romania is suspending all flights of Soviet-era MiG-21 LanceR fighter jets following a slew of problems and a fatal crash last month, the defence ministry said Friday.
The announcement came one day after the Romanian military reported that a MiG-21 jet experienced a problem with its landing gear, reports AFP.
On March 2, a MiG-21 disappeared from the radar while on patrol near the Black Sea. It was later found crashed with the pilot killed.
An IAR 330-Puma helicopter searching for the jet crashed in bad weather, killing all seven crew on board.
A "combination of human and environmental factors" caused the crashes, the defence ministry said in a preliminary investigation.
The precise number of MiG-21 fighter jets is confidential. Unofficial estimates put the number at around 25 in Romania today. During the communist regime, the country had around 400 MiG-21s.
Friday's announcement leaves the NATO member dependent on a squadron of F-16 jets bought recently from Portugal and on allied air policing missions.
Bucharest also says that it has "accelerated" efforts to buy another 32 F-16 jets from Norway, adding two more squadrons to the country's air force.