BUCAREST --- The Romanian Army will procure by the end of the year the first Patriot missile system, our country requesting that the payment be allowed in installments and maintenance be carried out in Romania, National Defence Minister Mihai Fifor stated on Wednesday.
"What I can tell you and assure you is that by the end of the year, the Romanian Army will procure the first Patriot system. We are waiting for the approval letter of the United States so that we can move on to contracting and we can purchase the first programme," the minister affirmed at the "Global SOF Symposium Europe" taking place in Bucharest.
According to him, the procurement of a Patriot system is a "government to government type" purchase and "maintenance will be carried out in Romania by one of the Romanian companies."
Fifor described his visit to the United States as "successful". "The meeting with Secretary of Defense, Mr Mattis was as conclusive as possible in this respect. The American side once more highlighted the role held by Romania in this Strategic Partnership with the United States," the Romanian minister specified.
He revealed that during talks, James Mattis wanted to find out "how the Romanian Army sees what is currently happening in this area of NATO's eastern flank."
Romanian authorities are under "advanced discussions for the purchase of another 36 F-16 warplanes," Defense Minister Mihai Fifor said on Wednesday.
"Next week we will close this part of the programme with (...) F-16. We are under advanced discussions to buy another 36 such aircraft, from the United States, not from Portugal. We have sent the necessary documents to see the purchasing price. We are at the beginning of this negotiation and we hope we will be able to buy another 36 warplanes," the defense minister said.
He said he wanted the pilots to fly with these fighter jets to be trained in the country.
"We are also interested in the viewpoint of the Romanian defense industry, because we continue to develop in Craiova the 'Soim' [Hawk] programme, for this aircraft to become the training plane for the pilots who will operate F-16," explained Mihai Fifor.
The defense minister is attending on Wednesday the Global SOF Symposium Europe, which is taking place in Bucharest.
The last three F-16 aircraft were received on Wednesday in Portugal, during an event organized at the Air Base in Monte Real, attended by a delegation led by Secretary of State Mircea Dusa, reads a press release of the Ministry of Defence.
According to the Romanian official, the Romanian-Portuguese inter-governmental contract for the acquisition of the F-16 aircraft at bilateral level, "a model of efficient, professional, transparent cooperation, with important benefits" for both states.
The Romanian dignitary underscored that the contractual relations and the excellent cooperation between the two air forces will continue even after the delivery of the three aircraft.
Secretary of State Dusa appreciated the American support especially in the overall progress of the programme, the transfer of the aircraft between Romania and the instruction of the crew and technical staff.
In Dusa's opinion, the acquisition also represents a transition stage towards the introduction in the service of the Romanian Air Forces of the 5h generation aircraft. The dignitary appreciated that the endowment programme with F-16 aircraft will prove its strategic importance not only on national level but also on regional level, strengthening thus Romania's capacity to properly reply to requirement of discouragement and defence specific to the Black Sea region.
Participating in the ceremony in Portugal on behalf of the Romanian state by the Chief of Air Staff Lieutenant General Laurian Anastasof and other people responsible for the acquisition process.
The official reception ceremony of the three aircraft will take place next week at the 86th Air Base "Locotenent aviator Gheorghe Mociornita," in Fetesti.