The purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets was approved on April 11 by Romania’s Supreme National Defense Council. With the green light for the acquisition, the NATO member country should soon start negotiations with the United States and the manufacturer of the stealth aircraft.
Romania’s interest in the F-35 has been known for some time. In February 2022, the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, declared that the modernization of the Romanian Air Force would not stop with the introduction of the F-16 (49 second-hand fighters bought from Portugal and Norway), and that Bucharest was also considering the purchase of the Lightning II.
In addition to the F-16, another fighter in service in Romania is the MiG-21 in the variant called LanceR, an updated model with avionics and weapons systems developed by Romanian and Israeli companies. These aircraft, however, are in the final phase of their useful life and will soon be retired.
Regarding the F-35, Romania has not yet defined how many aircraft it intends to acquire or an estimated period for receiving them.
The country is experiencing an expansion in military spending due to the war in Ukraine, having increased the defense budget since the beginning of the conflict in the neighboring country to 2.5% of GDP, compared to the previous 2%.
“These aircraft, equipped with a wide range of advanced sensors, the ability to exchange encrypted information in real time with air platforms and ground defense systems, the ability to truly manage the operational framework of the battlefield, as well as and with high munitions precision intelligence, allow achieving and maintaining air superiority, a mandatory condition to ensure sovereignty in the national airspace and, if necessary, for its defence”, said the government.
The Bucharest report adds that the acquisition of the F-35 is important for fulfilling the country’s commitments to NATO and the European Union, as well as “to deter any possible aggression”.
With Romania, the F-35 will have a total of 17 customers. The Lockheed Martin fighter is currently the most popular 5th generation fighter jet on the market, with over 900 aircraft delivered.