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Romania to acquire 48 F-35s in two tranches

Romania intends to acquire 48 F-35s to be operated across three squadrons. (USAF)

Romania has firmed up its procurement plan for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), disclosing that it intends to acquire 48 aircraft across two acquisition tranches.

The Romanian Ministry of National Defence (MND) informed the country's parliament of its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) plan in a letter that was sent on 4 August and published on 26 September.

In the letter, the MND outlined a short-term Phase 1 acquisition of two squadrons of 32 jets, to be followed some years later with a Phase 2 buy of one squadron of 16 jets.

“Regarding the concept of achieving the operational capability with a fifth-generation multirole aircraft … we request the parliament for approval for the initiation of awarding agreements related to the purchase of [an initial] 32 F-35 aircraft,” the MND said.

Phase 1 will be initiated in 2023 and will cover purchase of the aircraft, engines, initial logistics support, training, simulators, and air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons for an estimated USD6.5 billion. The timeline, content, and final value of Phase 2 will be determined after the procedure for awarding the procurement contract has been approved.

While the letter did not disclose the variant of F-35 to be acquired, it will likely be the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A, in service with the US Air Force (USAF) and most international customers. These will be at the latest Technology Refresh-3 (TR-3) Block 4 standard.

Having recently retired its Warsaw Pact-era (although later heavily upgraded by Israel) MiG-21 Lancers, the Romanian Air Force (RoAF) now flies Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons it received from Portugal, and recently signed for additional F-16AM/BMs from Norway.

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