32 of Romania's 48 Lockheed-Martin F-35As will be ordered in 2024, Defense Ministry says

Romania has announced that it intends to formalize a first order for 32 Lockheed-Martin F-35A stealth fighters, from 2024 to arm, from 2030, the first two of the three fighter squadrons intended to implement the American apparatus.

The intention of the Romanian authorities to acquire the American Lockheed-Martin F-35A fighter to modernize its air force is in no way a surprise. Indeed, as early as 2019, some echoes suggested that Bucharest would join the F-35 club as soon as its finances allowed it.

With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, with which Romania shares a 530 km border, the tensions in Moldova under Russian threat, and those in the Black Sea, Bucharest has, like many of its neighbors in Eastern Europe, greatly accelerated and extended its defense ambitions and timetables.

Thus, a few months ago, Bucharest announced its intention to extend its defense effort, already brought from 1,2% to 2% of its GDP from 2012 to 2022, beyond 2,5% in the years to come. At the same time, an envelope of €10 billion to modernize its land forces was released, and the acquisition of two attack submarines validated, the Scorpene being widely anticipated for this contract.

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After several fatal accidents, the Romanian Mig-21 Lancers were grounded in April 2022. Two months later, Bucharest acquired 32 second-hand Norwegian F-16s for $385 million, as a standby solution until 'on the arrival of the first F-35A

The modernization of the Romanian Air Force will be done in two stages. In June 2022, Bucharest and Oslo agreed for theacquisition of 32 second-hand Norwegian F-16s by the Romanian Air Force, and join the 17 Portuguese F-16 Block 15s purchased second-hand in 2013 and 2019, to replace its MIG-21s.

In a second step, the Romanian Air Force intends to equip itself with three squadrons armed with the 5ᵉ generation F-35A fighter from Lockheed-Martin. The first order, announced by the Ministry of Defence, is therefore expected in 2024.

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