WASHINGTON ― The State Department has cleared a $1.25 billion High Mobility Artillery Rocket System sale to Romania, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcement Friday.
The department notified Congress on Thursday and the deal is now pending congressional approval.
Romania has requested 54 HIMARS launchers and 81 unitary Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) and 81 alternative warhead GMLRS. The request also includes 54 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) and 24 Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems (AFATDS), which is the fire-control system for HIMARS.
Also included in the package would be 15 M1151A1 armored utility Humvees and 15 M1151A1 armor-ready, two-man Humvees along with spares and a wealth of other supporting equipment.
The prime contractor is Lockheed Martin and the work will be done in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Camden, Arkansas. Lockheed announced over a year ago that it was restarting its HIMARS production line in order to build new launchers for the United Arab Emirates.
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Romania announced last month that it planned to buy HIMARS and 36 F-16 fighter jets by 2022, part of a larger plan to spend roughly $11.6 billion on military procurements in the years 2017 through 2026.
[Romania eyes F-16 jets, rocket system amid defense spending hike]
Romania also plans to buy Bell Helicopter combat helicopters and Patriot Air-and-Missile Defense Systems.
[Romania signs preliminary deal to acquire Bell combat helos]
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the U.S. Army Europe commander, said during the major U.S.-led military exercise ― Saber Guardian ― in July, that he expected Romania would spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense, fulfilling its NATO promise this year.
European countries purchasing HIMARS directly benefits the U.S.’ and NATO allies’ goal to deter an aggressive Russia because it fills a gap the U.S. is unable to fully shore up with its own equipment.
Hodges has said that artillery and long-range fires capabilities fell by the wayside in Europe while the U.S. Army focused on fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while the U.S. Army can bolster the gap to an extent, European countries upgrading their fires capabilities could help supplement that gap.
The Romanians worked directly with HIMARS units during Saber Guardian this summer. At the Joint National Training Center (JNTC) in Cincu, Romania, a Romanian LARON battalion, which operates a 152mm Multiple Launch Rocket System, and the National Guard’s 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery unit out of North Carolina, a HIMARS unit, focused on operating alongside one another for a combined-arms, live-fire exercise there.
[Reserves bolster deterrence efforts at Saber Guardian]
Currently no other European country has procured HIMARS. Jordan, Singapore and UAE are the only foreign customers and Qatar has been authorized to buy the system.
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Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.