The United States Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program has approved a major sale of military equipment to Romania, including 54 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, an equivalent quantity of M1A1 chassis, as well as 16 armored engineer vehicles. This decision marks a significant step in the project to modernize the Romanian army, but the cost far exceeds the initial forecasts of the Romanian authorities.
For several years, Romania has engaged in an ambitious program to modernize its armed forces to deal with increasing tensions with Russia in Ukraine, Moldova and the Black Sea.
Bucharest invests massively in the modernization of the Romanian armed forces
Investment in the country's defense increased from 1.2% of GDP in 2012 to 2% currently, with a target of 2.5% by 2030. Romania's defense budget reached 7.5 billion euros in 2023, for a GDP of 285 billion euros in 2022.
Significant contracts have been signed recently, including the purchase of 7 MIM-104 Patriot anti-aircraft batteries and 54 long-range HIMARS artillery systems. Additionally, Bucharest plans to order 48 F-35A fighter jets , with a first order of 32 fighters planned for 2024.
In spring 2023, Bucharest opted to purchase 54 American M1A2 Abrams tanks, as part of a broader plan to acquire 300 new tanks to replace older TR-85 and T-55AM models. Initially, the Romanian authorities planned to acquire these second-hand armored vehicles for an estimated amount of 1 billion euros, or approximately 1.1 billion dollars.
However, the FMS response was recently made public, revealing a much higher cost than expected. The FMS authorized the sale of 54 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks, 54 M1A1 chassis, as well as 16 engineer vehicles, including 4 M88A2 Hercules, 4 M1110 Joint Assault Bridges, 4 M1110 breaching vehicles and 4 assault bridges M1074 Heavy Assault Scissor Bridges. In addition to these vehicles, various add-on equipment is included, such as M240C machine guns and shells of different types.
$2.53 billion for 54 M1A2 Abrams tanks and 16 armored support vehicles for the FMS
The surprise comes from the total cost of this contract, announced by the FMS at $2.53 billion , an increase of almost 130% compared to Romania's initial estimates.
Typically, FMS offerings include a wider range of equipment and services than requested by the customer, which often results in final contracts being lower than initial estimates.
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