WARSAW, Poland — The Romanian authorities have approved a plan to acquire F-35 Lightning II fighter jets for the country’s air force. The latest move indicates Romania could become the third Eastern European ally, after Poland and the Czech Republic, to operate the fifth-generation aircraft.
The decision was taken by the Romanian Supreme Council on National Defense (CSAT), a state body chaired by President Klaus Iohannis, at its April 11 meeting.
“The process of the modernization of the Air Force will continue with the purchase of the latest-generation F-35 aircraft,” the Romanian president’s office said in a statement. “These aircraft … allow to achieve and maintain air superiority, a mandatory condition for ensuring sovereignty in the national airspace and, if necessary, its defense.”
The number of the fighter jets to be purchased and the planned acquisition’s value were not disclosed.
The F-35s are designed to strengthen Romania’s modern fighter jet fleet. The country’s air service currently operates 17 used F-16s acquired from Portugal. Last year, the Romanian government signed a contract to buy 32 second-hand F-16s from Norway.
Romania is joining a growing group of Eastern European allies who have set their sights on Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation jet. In July 2022, the Czech government decided to launch negotiations with the United States to buy 24 F-35 aircraft.
In January 2020, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and National Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak signed a deal worth about $4.6 billion to acquire 32 F-35 fighters along with a training and logistics package for the Polish Air Force. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2024.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.