Hundreds of defence industry employees protested outside the Presidential Palace on Wednesday, dissatisfied with the fact that the authorities are not equipping the armed forces with products manufactured in Romania, preferring to import second-hand weapons instead.
“The Defence Ministry prefers importing second-hand weapons and ammunition, while our plants sit idle because of the lack of orders. EUR 15 bln have been wasted this way in the last 25 years on all the imported junk, and the army is very poorly equipped. Basically 80 percent of the Romanian armed forces are inoperable at this moment, in the context in which the Russians are pointing fingers at us now with the shield in Deveselu,” Adrian Nania, President of the ‘Unirea’ Federation of Defence Trade Unions, stated on Wednesday.
The President of the Uzina Mecanica Bucharest trade union told us that Defence Ministry officials responsible for weapons procurement do not want to hear about heavy equipment such as tanks. “We manufactured around 1,200 tanks for the Romanian armed forces. Until 2009. Since then our products have not been bought by the armed forces any longer, despite the fact that they are compatible with those manufactured in other NATO states. In 2015, we did not even get maintenance orders for the tanks already in use. In 2016 it’s been the same so far.”
Representatives of all the 15 defence industry plants that are part of the Romarm National Company, as well as Romaero employees, took part in the protest organised outside the Presidential Palace.
“They won’t give us work. They don’t care about Romanian jobs. Our plants could manufacture, in partnership with foreign companies, any type of weapon and ammunition. For instance, there is the need for 400 APCs that can very well be manufactured at the plant in Moreni, however the programme is being tarried and I sense they will import them too. We hope that once the defence budget obtains 2 percent of GDP some of the funds for the procurement of equipment would stay in Romania too,” the trade union leader added, being quoted by Agerpres.
Head of Land Forces Staff: We need armoured carriers and support national defence industry
Commander of the Romanian Land Forces Staff Major General Dumitru Scarlat said on Wednesday that the Land Forces need armoured carriers, supporting at the same time the national defence industry.
“We need armoured carriers for the Land Forces. We set the requirements, but it’s not us who decide what kind of combat vehicle will be chosen to equip the Land Forces. In the Romanian Army, the structure responsible for the acquisition of this hardware is the Armaments Department, and we would be pleased if the Land Forces were equipped with an armoured carrier capable of allowing us to successfully accomplish our missions. We support the national defence industry and therefore, our demands for the future follow this direction,” said Scarlat at the end of a demonstration session of the capabilities of an 8×8 armoured vehicle organized by a Finnish company.
The head of the Land Forces Staff said that the he would want the combat carrier to be produced in Romania, the more so as this equipment has a very long lifetime and maintenance would be easier to perform if it were manufactured in the country.
The representative of the company that organized the demonstration said that the company is highly interested in producing armoured vehicles in Romania with local workforce and transfer of technology.