DEFENCE

Bills on HIMARS and corvettes to be adopted in next Gov’t meeting

The bill on the procurement of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) batteries and the decision regarding the four multi-mission corvettes will be on the order of the day of the next Government meeting, the Government being set to adopt these legislative acts.

“The bill on the procurement of HIMARS rockets will enter the Government meeting on Thursday and will be approved. Also on Thursday, during the Government meeting, we will also approve the decision on the four multi-mission corvettes,” Defence Minister Mihai Fifor announced on Monday evening on Antena3, pointing out that Romania will pay approximately USD 1 billion for the first HIMARS system, by February 28.

The U.S. Embassy notified the MoD, in September 2017, that Romania’s request to purchase High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) multiple rocket launchers was approved by the U.S. Congress.

“The U.S. Embassy in Romania informed the Defence Ministry on Wednesday, September 6, that the U.S. Congress approved our country’s request to purchase High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), as per the standard American procedures,” reads an MoD communique.

Under the HIMARS procurement program, Romania requested the acquisition of 54 HIMARS launchers and auxiliary equipment for three combat battalions.

The MoD points out that the program is now in an intermediate stage, the U.S. Congress’s approval set to be followed by technical talks and negotiations to determine the final configuration of the acquisition, technology transfer options and the involvement of the national defence industry in providing the necessary production and maintenance equipment.

The decision to equip the Romanian Armed Forces with HIMARS derives from the need to provide the armed forces with modern artillery systems that would contribute to strengthening the national defence capability and to increasing the degree of interoperability with allied armed forces, by having in place a reliable deterrence capability, the MoD points out.

At the same time, the institution points out that the HIMARS procurement is one of the eight key procurement programmes set forth in the 2017 – 2026 Romanian Armed Forces Procurement Plan to which Parliament gave, in May 2017, the preliminary go-ahead for the initiation of procedures to award the relevant contracts.

According to the quoted source, HIMARS is one of the most reliable combat support systems tested and used in actual combat by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps and it offers an enhanced combat capability, giving the armed forces a substantial edge, offering commanders options for success in specific operations. HIMARS’s reliability rate and degree of interoperability with U.S. and allied armed forces lowers the final operational and maintenance costs.

HIMARS is the second U.S. combat system to receive the approval of the U.S. Congress, after seven long-range surface-to-air PAC-3+ PATRIOT batteries underwent the same procedure last month.

In December 2017, the MoD published for public consultation a draft Government decision on the awarding of a framework-agreement for the delivery of 4 corvettes, built and equipped in a Romanian shipyard, the total value of the investment project being estimated at approximately EUR 1.6 billion, VAT included.

“The circumstances and specific procedure related to the essential procurement programme is approved (…) in order to award a framework-agreement and subsequent associated contracts/multiannual contract for the delivery of four corvettes, built and equipped in a Romanian shipyard, and of the initial logistic support. The necessary funds (…) are ensured, in line with the law, within the limit of the commitment appropriations and budget appropriations approved for this purpose via the annual budget laws for the MoD,” reads the mentioned Government decision.

According to the substantiation note, the essential security interest of the Romanian state consists of consolidating/developing on the national territory, through the company declared winner, a warship-building industrial capability which would build and equip the first corvette within 3 years and the group of 4 corvettes within 7 years at most.

According to the mentioned Government decision, the commitment appropriation for the first contract subsequent to the framework-agreement/multiannual contract on the delivery of four corvettes and the government-to-government contracts/agreements on equipment, ammunition and services needed to equip the corvettes will come from the MoD’s annual budget for 2018, in observance of the law.

The substantiation note points out that, at present, the extended Black Sea region is characterised by actions that infringe upon international law by challenging the international order, by the conservation of frozen conflicts and the expansion of the military presence, and the Romanian Navy must have a modern, credible and well-balanced force structure in relation to the naval forces of the other Black Sea states, in order to carry out its specific missions in this political-military context.

At present, the Romanian Navy has four corvettes which are outdated from an operational and technical standpoint, having limited interoperability with the warships of other NATO and EU member states, an expired operational life, and being equipped with Eastern-bloc equipment and technology whose upgrading is not feasible, the Government decision points out.

“In these conditions, equipping the Romanian naval forces with four new, modern multi-mission corvettes that are interoperable with the warships of other NATO and EU member states, adapted to current missions, represents an essential necessity that will be satisfied in the shortest of times. By procuring new corvettes – and bearing in mind their lifespan of approximately 30 years, which can be subsequently extended via successive modernisations –, the Romanian naval forces are provided the necessary operational certainty to properly carry out their specific missions in the medium- and long-term,” the Government decision reads.

Considering the security situation in the Black Sea region and the specific missions of the Romanian naval forces, for the Romanian Armed Forces it is essential that the first corvette be built and equipped within 3 years after the signing of the first contract subsequent to the framework-agreement/multiannual contract, after which, depending on the sums allocated from the Defence Ministry’s budget, the capability stipulated in the ‘Multi-mission Corvette’ procurement programme – consisting of 4 warships – would be completed within 7 years at most, the Government decision reads.

 

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