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Romania Seeks Approval for Acquisition of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Aircraft

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Romania Seeks Approval for Acquisition of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Aircraft

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Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Aircraft
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Aircraft

In a significant move towards enhancing its military capabilities, Romania’s Ministry of National Defence has officially submitted a request to the parliament seeking approval for the acquisition of 32 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II multi-role combat aircraft. This marks the initial formal step in what promises to be a transformative process for the Romanian Armed Forces. The proposed purchase involves the procurement of the first batch of F-35A Lightning II aircraft, heralding a new era for the country’s defense capabilities. If granted approval by the parliament, the government in Bucharest plans to move forward by dispatching a formal Letter of Request to the United States. This essential diplomatic move sets the stage for the subsequent signing of an intergovernmental Letter of Acceptance (LOA), solidifying the commitment between the two nations. According to reliable sources within the Romanian government, under favorable conditions, the agreement could be finalized as early as 2024. This significant development would pave the way for the anticipated implementation phase, which is projected to commence around 2032.

The acquisition of the F-35A Lightning II holds paramount importance in the modernization of Romania’s military aviation capabilities, effectively replacing the aging F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon aircraft currently in service. Currently, the Romanian Air Force operates a fleet of seventeen F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon aircraft, originally procured from Portugal. Complementing this fleet, an additional order of 32 F-16 units has been secured from Norway, with delivery expected to commence in the latter half of this year. Official statements indicate that the allocated resources will ensure the sustained operation of the F-16 fleet for approximately ten more years, offering a strategic window for the seamless integration of the new F-35A Lightning II aircraft This bold move towards modernization reflects Romania’s commitment to bolstering its defense capabilities and staying at the forefront of evolving military technology. As the nation takes these crucial steps, eyes will be on the parliament’s decision and subsequent diplomatic processes as they shape the future landscape of Romania’s military prowess.

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The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C. The F-35A is the smallest, lightest version and capable of 9 g, the highest of all variants. Although the F-35A currently conducts aerial refueling via boom and receptacle method, the aircraft can be modified for probe-and-drogue refueling if needed by the customer. A drag chute pod can be installed on the F-35A, with the Royal Norwegian Air Force being the first operator to adopt it.

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Aircraft
An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing takes off during an Agile Combat Employment exercise at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, July 13, 2021. ACE exercises ensure the 354th FW is able to deploy, disperse and maneuver combat capability to create dilemmas for near-peer adversaries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jose Miguel T. Tamondong)

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