June 23. 2024. 12:29

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Romania aims to buy F-35 fighter planes to boost air defences

Romania aims to buy the latest generation US F-35 fighter planes to boost its air defences, the country’s supreme defence council (CSAT) said in a statement on Tuesday (11 April).

The European Union and NATO state has raised defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product this year from 2%, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The country, which shares a 650-km border with Ukraine, is host to a US ballistic missile defence system and, as of last year, has a permanent alliance battlegroup stationed on its territory.

US activates Romanian missile defence site, angering Russia

The United States switched on an $800 million missile shield in Romania yesterday (12 May) that it sees as vital to defend itself and Europe from so-called rogue states but the Kremlin says is aimed at blunting its own nuclear arsenal.

“Having robust, credible, interoperable, flexible and efficient air defence operational capabilities … as part of our commitments as a NATO and EU state is key to Romania meeting its defence policy objectives,” the statement said.

“The air force’s modernisation process will continue through the acquisition of last generation F-35 jets.”

The council did not elaborate on timing or numbers.

Last year, President Klaus Iohannis said Romania was mulling acquiring F-35 planes, which are made by US weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp.

In March, the defense ministry said Romania would buy Abrams tanks made by General Dynamics, as part of wider defence acquisitions plans.

In December, Romania’s defence ministry signed a deal to acquire seven Watchkeeper X unmanned aircraft systems from Israeli defence electronics firm Elbit Systems for roughly 1.89 billion lei ($418.02 million).