Aerostar completes Mozambican MiG-21 upgrade


Romanian company Aerostar has finished upgrading and overhauling eight MiG-21 fighter jets for the Mozambique Air Force, the company has announced, with deliveries almost concluded.

Six of the MiG-21s are now back in Mozambique with the final two aircraft shipped from Romania in early July.

The programme commenced over a year ago and has involved six single-seat MiG-21bis and two twin-seat MiG-21UM trainer aircraft. Each overhaul took up to 120 days to accomplish and in effect the aircraft have been re-lifed and rehabilitated, Aerostar said. In many instances the aircraft involved had not flown operationally for some 20 years – this also means that the airframes have many hours of life left.

Each of the MiG-21s has also been upgraded with the installation of a GPS system and a modern digital flight data recorder.

The MiG-21 contract was part of a package that also included the overhaul of an L-39 jet trainer and a full training programme for ground staff and pilots.

Grigore Filip, President and General Director of Aerostar stated that, “The Mozambique programme, which is coming to its conclusion, is proof of our capabilities in this direction. We will feel that our mission has been completely successful when we find out that the Mozambique personnel are operating and carrying out flight training by themselves. Furthermore, we believe that this type of upgrade/overhaul/training solution brings advantages to countries with precarious resources and we shall increase our efforts to interest them in our capabilities.”

Aerostar has previously upgraded over 100 MiG-21s for the Romanian Air Force and is offering solutions to air forces around the world regarding overhaul, modernisation, upgrades and training.

According to Air Forces Daily, Mozambique Air Force students have been training at Bacau and at the Boboc Air Force Base for nearly a year, undertaking basic training on Aerostar’s Festival light aircraft and the overhauled L-39ZO.

The Mozambican Air Force has apparently bought two Aerostar Festival side-by-side light aircraft.

The Mozambique Air Force is slowly rejuvenating, considering that until recently it was almost entirely inoperable, suffering poor serviceability since independence from Portugal in 1975 and the collapse of the Soviet Union and its financial support in the early 1990s.

A recent acquisition came in September last year when the Air Force took delivery of a second hand Hawker 850XP business jet, built in 2005. Another important acquisition came in July 2012 when Portugal delivered a second Cessna/Reims FTB-337G Milirole utility aircraft to the country, as part of the CTM (Cooperação Técnico-Militar) technical military cooperation agreement between Mozambique and Portugal. This agreement also includes training and the Portuguese Air Force is working with the Mozambique Air Force on pilot and ground crew training in both countries.

Indeed, Portuguese advisors are training aircrew and mechanics at the recently formed Escola Prática de Aviação (EPA – School of Practical Aviation) at the Air Force’s base at Maputo-Mavalene International Airport.

The two FTB-337Gs are used for medical evacuations, maritime surveillance and pilot training, alongside a Cessna 152 and a Piper PA-32 Seneca, acquired around 2011. A Cessna 172 is also used for training at the EPA, according to Air Forces Daily.