National Defence Minister Gabriel Les stated on Sunday, on the TVR1 public broadcaster, that the Patriot surface-to-air missile systems is one of the possible solutions having in mind for the air defence, because it’s a “system tested in combat” and has “a balanced price,” but a decision hasn’t been made yet in this regard.
“This Patriot missiles, that have been discussed over the past days represent air defence which is currently extremely important to Romania. Patriot is one of the possible solutions that we have in mind, it’s a very good system, a system that was tested in combat, a system that, from our current estimations, has a balanced price. I would like to say from the beginning that we have discussed so far and will discuss about air defence with certain operational requirements that would respond to the categories of forces, but we haven’t make any decision in this regard,” Minister Les stated.
He said that there are “approximately 2-3-4 worldwide solutions” for this type of air defence, adding that not every country produces this type of systems.
When asked about the criticism related the system being too old, the Defence Minister underscored that specialists and technicians within the National Defence Ministry (MApN) will be the persons saying which system meets the requirements.
“I haven’t discussed so far about a certain system, we discuss about air defence and all the specialists and technicians within the MApN, of the forces’ categories, will be the ones who will say if this system or any other system meets the requirements established by the categories of forces. This system is not for antiballistic defence, it’s about an air defence system against all possible aircraft. Just as the defence against cruise missiles is another thing. When we will have a solution in this direction, we will come up and announce it publicly, because after all, this is our intention, to be extremely transparent,” Les added.
The Minister underlined that for the purchases that will exceed 100 million euros, Parliament’s approval is needed and in this regard the Minister sent a letter to the legislative forum, which he endorsed in front of the specialized committees.
“One month ago, I sent to Parliament and I had a memorandum in the Gov’t with the presentation of these 8 programmes of major endowment, which are also included in a decision of Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defence: we are talking about air defence, about corvettes, the purchase of corvettes, about C4I which means command-control, sensory part, MLRS are long-range rocket launchers, 8×8, 4×4 armored multifunctional transporters. These letters were sent to Parliament, I have endorsed their approval in Parliament in the specialized committees. We wait for these letters to come back to the MApN in order to start these programmes, these procedures,” Les also said.
In respect to the purchase of corvettes, Les claimed that this programme didn’t stop, but Parliament’s approval is expected.
“We are talking about an amount that exceeded one billion euros regarding this corvettes. This programme didn’t stop, the General Staff of the Romanian Naval Forces needs such upgrade, such new technique. After we will have all these letters, we will start and see what is the most suitable solution. Certainly, according to the governing programme, it’s a matter that I very much care about, to see how many of these programmes we want to get started this year, because none of them will be completed this year, such products are not on the stores’ shelves, one has to order them, how much will we manage to integrate in our national defence industry,” Gabriel Les also stated.
In respect to the F16 aircraft, the Minister mentioned that, currently, there are nine F16 in the endowment and “somewhere around the end of this year, September-October” the last 3 aircraft are to arrive, the ones that were stipulated in the governmental contract with the US, through which these aircraft were updated to the current requirements.
“We are talking about 20 up to 36 aircraft a second squadron that are to enter in the Romanian Army’s endowment, certainly after they will be brought up-to-date. Being the MApN, as Romania’s Government, an additional requirement that we have and which we don’t want to let go is trying to modernize these aircraft, to upgrade them here, in a facility in Romania. This would make possible even the funding of that Maintenance Center that would give us the possibility to perform all the operations for making operational this capability,” Les also stated.
He also referred to the purchase of helicopters, underscoring that, until the end of this year, the concept of the helicopter that is to enter in the Romanian Army’s endowment will be completed, giving that IAR helicopters are starting again to consume their flight resource.
“After we will have this flight concept, not only for the air forces but for the land forces also […] then we will come up with a purchase solution for this capability. Certainly, to the extend in which we will manage to produce these helicopters in the country […]. We would have to replace all the IAR helicopter fleet, taking into account that somewhere in 2025-2026-2027 many helicopters that we have would have consumed their flight resource,” Les said.
In connection to the armored transporters, Gabriel Les mentioned that 400-500 transporters must be purchased.
“We all know what are we currently using, besides some ones ordered in the past 10 years that meet the requirements, the other ones are old capabilities, some of them even have 20-30-40 years, they don’t meet any current security requirements. We will have to order. The necessity is quite high. We are talking about a necessary of 400-500 pieces of 8×8 transporters, including the 4×4 version,” Les stated.