The Romanian Parliament took notice of a request submitted by the Ministry of National Defense to acquire 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). The request, taken into notice by the parliament in early September 2023, also mentions the acquisition of a third squadron of 16 aircraft at a future date.
“We request the Parliament’s prior approval for the initiation of the procedure for awarding agreements related to the purchase of 32 F-35 aircraft, within the framework of the procurement program, ‘5th generation multi-role aircraft, F-35,’ through the assistance program of security Foreign Military Sales (FMS),” a document signed by Minister of National Defense Angel Tîlvăr reads.
“Phase I of the procurement program will be initiated in 2023 and involves the purchase of 32 F-35 aircraft, engines, initial logistics support, training services, flight simulators, and air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions, for an estimated value of USD 6.5 billion.”
Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defense (CSAT) confirmed the F-35 order on April 11, 2023. Once approved by the parliament, negotiations with the United States are projected to be finalized in 2024. This timeline sets the stage for the potential operational deployment of the first Romanian F-35A fighters by 2032.
The F-35A fifth-generation 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.
In late August 2023, Romania agreed to establish an F-16 Pilot Training Center on its soil with assistance from the Netherlands and Lockheed Martin.