The Romanian Ministry of National Defense submitted a formal request to Parliament on August 10, 2023, for the acquisition of an initial batch of 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters, enough to equip two squadrons. The estimated cost of this procurement is approximately €5.9 billion (equivalent to $6.5 billion)
Citing the escalating military potential of Russia and heightened military pressures along the eastern border, the ministry emphasized the need to address the evolving security landscape by strengthening the Forțele Aeriene Române (Romanian Air Force).
“We are taking the first step to equip the Romanian Air Force with a state-of-the-art capability that will provide Romania with a consolidated status in the security architecture on the Eastern Flank and in the Black Sea region,” Minister of National Defense Angel Tîlvăr told local TV station Antena 3.
Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defense (CSAT) confirmed the F-35 order on April 11, 2023. Following parliamentary approval, it’s projected that negotiations with the United States should be finalized in 2024. This timeline sets the stage for the potential operational deployment of the first Romanian F-35A fighters by 2032. A second order for an additional squadron of 16 F-35A fighters is also being considered.
The F-35A fighters are intended to replace the Romanian Air Force’s existing F-16 fleet. Two batches of second-hand Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters were purchased recently, 17 from Portugal in 2016 and 32 from Norway in 2022. These aircraft replaced the venerable MiG-21 LanceR fighters, which were retired on May 15, 2023.