LONDON – Romania is considering joining France, Belgium, Estonia, Cyprus and Hungary in the Mistral procurement program, to bolster its air defenses and border security against possible Russian aggression.
Over the last week, the security situation in Romania has become more turbulent than normal, with the finding of drone debris near the country’s border with Ukraine. The discovery comes amid Russian attacks on Ukraine that have taken place close to this area.
Bucharest has been looking to increase its air defense capabilities for some time now, in particular through previous and ongoing tenders to purchase electronic warfare and counter-drone systems. In recent weeks, the country has turned its attention to Mistral, through which it may obtain the Mistral 3 missile produced by MBDA, a France-based defense firm owned by BAE Systems, Airbus and Leonardo. a Romanian Ministry of Defense source told Defense News.
“MBDA is aware of Romania’s interest in joining this procurement process and is engaged in ongoing discussions with them,” Julien Watelet, a company spokesperson told Defense News on Sept. 14.
The joint acquisition for the Mistral 3 was launched with the letter of intent signed on June 19 during the Paris Air Show by France, Belgium, Estonia, Cyprus and Hungary. Productio of the Mistral will double to about 40 units a month next year.
Watelet added that the program could benefit from the support of the EU and allow scale economies to be achieved, “as to incentivise member states to procure defense products jointly while reinforcing the European Defense Technological and Industrial Base competitiveness.”
It remains unclear how many systems will be delivered to each country and the cost of these purchases. The French-led project is being overseen by the ministry’s procurement arm Direction Generale de l’Armement on behalf of the partner countries.
The Romanian defense official added that the country is also open to other proposals and in the process of assessing additional C-UAS systems both from local and international manufacturers.
In June, Civitas Systems, a Romanian company specializing in border security systems, was awarded a $8.5 million contract from the government to supply an undisclosed number of counter-drone units through the country’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.