Romania plans to buy 32 planes for $6.5 billion under F-35 deal – ministry


BUCHAREST (Reuters):  Romania plans to buy 32 latest-generation F-35 fighter planes from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, for $6.5 billion, the defence ministry said on Tuesday, under a deal whose outline was announced in April.

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

Romania shares a 650-km (400 mile) border with Ukraine, and has seen the conflict approach its borders as Moscow has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian ports across the River Danube.

Last year it agreed to buy 32 second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Norway, to add to 17 acquired from Portugal since 2016.

In July, it announced a regional training hub for F-16 pilots that will ultimately be available to NATO allies and partners, including Ukraine.

The F-35 purchase was approved by Romania’s supreme defence council (CSAT) in April and the ministry said it was now asking parliament to agree to begin the purchasing process this year.

The outline deal includes logistics and training services, flight simulators and ammunition along with the jets, as well as an option for Romania to buy another 16 F-35s later.

Final contracts are not likely to be signed before next year, and Defence Minister Angel Tilvar said this year the first planes would not be delivered before 2030.

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