The MiG 21 saw a vast introduction into various Soviet Bloc countries, among them Romania. Following the latter's refusal to participate in Operation Danube in 1968, foreign relations with Western countries began opening, along with opportunities of licensed production, namely from the French aeronautical industry in the form of Aérospatiale helicopters. The arrival of the MiG 21 MF variants into the Romanian Air Force led to a redesign of the MiG 21 airframe to incorporate design elements of the French Mirage fighters, the most notable changes being the revised intakes and a full nosecone for a better radar. An unsupported effort by the USSR, the early stages of the program led to procurement issues of the Tumansky turbojets, until finally a deal was struck for their provision.
The IAR 88, dubbed Acvilă - eagle -, by the air force, quickly earned the NATO reporting name "Flint". It was deployed and served with all active units, becoming the workhorse of the RoAF for many decades to come, filling a multitude of roles ranging from ground attack to air superiority. Subsequently, a number of them underwent modernisation in the form of improved avionics under the SpeaR program. This particular model bears the post 1984-roundel, with a ground camouflage inspired by the MiG 23s in service at the time.
Historically, the indigenous Romanian aeronautical industry suffered major setbacks after WW2, when it was forced to scrap its IAR-80/81 fleet and replace it with various Soviet fighters (Mig-15/17/19/21/29, Yak-17/23, etc). Some factories had to divert production towards agricultural equipment and licensed Soviet aircraft such as the Kamov-126. This idea is similar in concept to the Luft 46 designs, but for the Romanian Air Force. And it's free game up to IAR-92 for other designs.