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August 13, 2022

US likely to make new bid to sell F16s to Romania

The United States will send Romania a document mapping out a possible payment in instalments for the purchase of used F16 jets, military sources told Mediafax news agency. If the Romanian side agrees to the proposal, a new official offer will be made. The document detailing instalment payments will most probably reach Bucharest in April or early May, the sources added.

Romania’s Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) approved the purchase of 24 used F16 jets in March last year. The acquisition was estimated to cost about USD 1.3 bln. But in early August last year, Prime Minister Emil Boc said the government does not have any money for the project, an answer given two days after the deadline expired for Romania to make the first payment for the purchase.

Later on, the US Ambassador to Romania, Mark Gitenstein, said Bucharest decided to give up buying F16s solely on economic grounds. When asked whether Romania might resume the programme, Gitenstein said this was a difficult problem and an answer could be offered in six months, based on how the country’s credit rating develops.

Meanwhile, in response to a MPs’ request for comment, PM Boc underlined that the F16 acquisition strategy is based on the country’s goal of carrying out air defence missions and meeting its commitments within NATO. The prime minister also underlined that the F16 purchase is the first phase of the strategy, having as final objective the acquisition of F35 JSF jets, according to Mediafax. Boc’s answer, given to Liberal Deputy George Scutaru’s request, was dated early February and also notes that the acquisition last year received the approval of all structures with relevant duties in the field, including Parliament’s committees for defence, public order and national safety.

“This strategy was based on Romania’s need to carry out air defence missions and meet requirements within NATO, and the implications of the fact MiG-21 LanceR planes currently used by the Romanian Air Forces are becoming obsolete,” the response reads, underlining that the country does not have at the moment the necessary financial resources to purchase new multirole fighters.

Commenting on the response, Scutaru said PM Boc and his government will bear responsibility for the country’s “diminishing defence capacities.” The answer “proves Boc’s inability to solve a problem that has to do with Romanian national security. He does not say what funds are needed and when they will be allocated, in order to buy multirole fighters that are so necessary to the Romanian air forces,” Scutaru said.

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