Romania to buy 32 new F-35 Fighter Jets
Romania plans to buy 32 latest-generation F-35 fighter jets from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin for 6.5 billion dollars, the defense ministry announced on Tuesday.
Bucharest increased its defense spending to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product this year from 2 percent last year in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Romania shares a 400-mile border with Ukraine and is worried the conflict is moving closer to its borders after Moscow began attacking Ukrainian ports across the Danube River in July.
Last year, Bucharest agreed to buy 32 used F-16 fighter jets from Norway to add to the 17 acquired from Portugal in 2016.
In July, the creation of a regional F-16 pilot training center was announced, which will be available to NATO allies and partners, including Ukraine.
The purchase of the F-35s was approved by the Supreme Council of National Defence in April, and the ministry said it is now asking parliament to agree to start the procurement process this year.
The planned deal includes logistics and training services, flight simulators and munitions along with the jets, as well as an option for Romania to buy 16 more F-35s at a later stage.
Final contracts are unlikely to be signed until next year, and Defense Minister Angel Tilvar has warned that the first planes will not be delivered before 2030.
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