Romania Has Decided To Buy The F-35

F-35 Romania
F-35s of the Italian Air Force (Author)

Romania’s CSAT (Supreme Council of National Defence) has approved the acquisition of F-35 jets.

On Apr. 11, 2023, during a meeting focused on the development of Romania’s military aviation, the country’s CSAT (Supreme Council of National Defence) has approved the purchase of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II 5th generation aircraft.

“The modernization process of the Air Force will continue with the acquisition of the latest generation F-35 aircraft. These aircraft, equipped with a wide range of advanced sensors, the ability to exchange encrypted information in real time with both air platforms and ground-based defense systems, the ability to actually manage the operational picture of the battlefield, as well and with high-precision intelligent munitions, allow achieving and maintaining air superiority, a mandatory condition for ensuring sovereignty in the national airspace and, if necessary, for its defense. In this sense, the members of the Council approved the concept of achieving the operational capability of air defense with 5th-generation multi-role aircraft”, according to a press release from the Presidential Administration, Digi24 media outlet reported.

“The realization of robust, credible, interoperable, flexible and efficient air defense operational capabilities, intended both to fulfil the commitments assumed as a result of NATO and EU membership, as well as to deter a possible aggression, is the essential condition for fulfilling the objectives of the defense policy of Romania. The spectrum of said defense capabilities will include, among others, enhanced air and anti-missile defense capabilities for self-force protection and advanced and diversified long-range precision fire and strike capabilities.”

Romania had made its interest in the F-35 clear since February 2022, when president Klaus Iohannis announced in a speech at Câmpia Turzii that the modernization of the the Romanian Air Force would not stop with the F-16, and that the country was considering the purchase of the F-35″. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Romania, which shares a 650-km border with the latter, has raised its defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP (gross domestic product), from the previous 2 percent.

The Romanian Air Force has procured a total of 49 F-16s so far: 17 from Portugal, which are already in service, and another 32 ex-Royal Norwegian Air Force jets, that will be delivered starting this year. The F-16s will allow the RoAF to retire its MiG-21 LanceR, the upgraded avionics and weapons systems version of the MiG-21 Fishbed, developed by Elbit Systems and Aerostar Bacău for Romania, and act as gap fillers until the first F-35s are delivered.

The number of F-35s and a timeline of deliveries have not been disclosed yet, although it was previously reported that the first new 5th generation aircraft should arrive after 2030.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.