Romania aims to buy US F-35 fighter jets to boost air defenses

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Romania aims to buy the latest generation US F-35 fighter planes to boost its air defenses, the country’s supreme defense council (CSAT) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The European Union and NATO state has raised defense spending to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product this year from 2 percent, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The country, which shares a 650-km (400 mile) border with Ukraine, is host to a US ballistic missile defense system and, as of last year, has a permanent alliance battlegroup stationed on its territory.

“Having robust, credible, interoperable, flexible and efficient air defense operational capabilities ... as part of our commitments as a NATO and EU state is key to Romania meeting its defense policy objectives,” the statement said.

“The air force’s modernization process will continue through the acquisition of last generation F-35 jets.”

The council did not elaborate on timing or numbers.

Last year, President Klaus Iohannis said Romania was mulling acquiring F-35 planes, which are made by US weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp.

In March, the defense ministry said Romania would buy Abrams tanks made by General Dynamics, as part of wider defense acquisitions plans.

In December, Romania’s defense ministry signed a deal to acquire seven Watchkeeper X unmanned aircraft systems from Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems for roughly 1.89 billion lei ($418.02 million).

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