The Supreme Defense Council of Romania (CSAT) has approved the purchase of fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.
A meeting of the CSAT, chaired by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, was held on April 11, 2023 to discuss the security situation in the Black Sea region and Romania's position in relation to the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The Council decided that the development of Romanian air defenses was necessary to deter possible aggression, using both anti-aircraft and anti-missile capabilities and long-range precision fire and strike capabilities. To achieve the latter, CSAT confirmed a future order for Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.
"The process of modernizing the Air Force continues with the purchase of the latest generation F-35 aircraft," the Romanian President's Office said in a statement. “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, as well as high-precision intelligent munitions, make it possible to achieve and maintain air superiority, a mandatory requirement for ensuring sovereignty in national airspace and, if necessary, for its defense.”
Romania's longstanding consideration of acquiring F-35 aircraft is now being actively pursued. However, neither the expected number of aircraft nor the delivery schedule were announced. In recent years, the Romanian Air Force has sought to replace the outdated MiG-21 LanceR fighters, which currently form the backbone of the fleet of around 20 fighters. To this end, two batches of used Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets were purchased, namely 17 from Portugal in 2016 and 32 from Norway in 2022.