Romania to buy unspecified number of F-35 jets for major upgrade of country’s air force

The advanced fighter jets should enter service around 2030

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Mandiner
U.S. Air Force F-35 fighter jet performs aerobatic maneuvers on the second day of the Aero India 2023 at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, India, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Romania’s Supreme Defense Council (CSAT) approved on Tuesday the purchase of fifth-generation multi-role combat aircraft for the Romanian Air Force.

According to a CSAT statement, the modernization of the Romanian Air Force will continue with the procurement of F-35 fighter jets. The national security body indicated that the F-35s are equipped with advanced sensors and high-precision smart missiles; they are also capable of real-time, encrypted communication with ground-based air defenses and other aircraft, which makes them suitable for gaining and maintaining air superiority and defending airspace sovereignty.

According to the defense establishment, Romania is committed to building an effective and credible air defense capable of deterring potential aggression, fulfilling the obligations of NATO and EU membership, and improving its ability to cooperate with allies.

The CSAT also analyzed the evolution of the security situation in the Black Sea region and “external interventions affecting the democratic process in Moldova” and assessed that the continuation of its strong support to Ukraine and Moldova will directly contribute to the strengthening of Romania’s security.

In March 2019, the first squadron of 16 secondhand F-16s, acquired from Portugal, entered service in Romania. Romania’s defense ministry had previously stated that the country needs at least three squadrons of 16 multi-role fighters each to defend its airspace. Last year, Romania signed a contract with Norway for the purchase of 32 additional secondhand F-16 fighter jets. These are expected to be delivered this year and next.

The F-16s are seen as a temporary solution until the fifth-generation F-35 fighters are acquired. According to an earlier statement by the head of the Romanian Directorate General of Armament Lt. Gen. Teodor Incicaş, the first F-35s are scheduled to enter service after 2030.

For the time being, the Romanian Air Force’s Russian-made MiG-21 fighters, which have been refurbished with Israeli assistance, will also take part in air patrols. The former fleet of 110 fighters is now down to around 30 to 40 combat-capable aircraft, and the air force started to phase out MiG-21 Lancers this year.

If the approval is followed by a deal, Romania will be the second Central European country boasting the modern fighters after Poland, which has 32 on order and additional plans for another 32.

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