The first 36 Piranha V armored personnel carriers will leave in the coming days for the final users, the Red Scorpions from Craiova, after they have passed qualitative inspection and reception at the Bucharest Mechanical Plant.
I am confident that they will pass the operational testing as well, and will integrate very well in the units of the Land Forces, which are in great need of a vehicle to ensure their mobility, increased firepower, but also increased protection while fulfilling their missions.
Today, we witnessed an important moment for one of the first essential equipment programs that was started by the Romanian Army since 2017, the first year in which two percent of GDP was allocated for defense.
The National Political Agreement on Increasing Defense Funding provided us with the necessary framework for implementing coherent equipment policies and allowed us to launch and support credible modernization programs, the results of which are beginning to be seen.
In August, the first two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the new batch of five arrived from Portugal to complete the Air Force's first multi-role aircraft squadron. Last month, the Romanian Army received one of the most efficient and best long-range air defense systems in the world, the first Patriot system of the seven that the military will have.
In the next period, until the end of the year, the Romanian Army will receive two more F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole aircraft and over two hundred military trucks in different configurations, and at the beginning of next year the Army will have the first HIMARS surface-to-ground missile system.
The fundamental purpose of these acquisitions for defense is to guarantee the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Romania. We will achieve this goal only if we develop those types of forces and capabilities that allow us to fight back against any possible aggressor.
Our national defense is based on membership in NATO, the EU and other international organizations, the strategic partnership with the US and other strategic partnerships, but, above all, we have a duty to rely on ourselves, on the institutions of the national defense system and security. That is why we must develop our defense capabilities and engage, together with our allies, in international operations and missions.
I am satisfied that, from now on, the other contracted carriers will be produced in Romania, and their maintenance will also be done in the country. The military will obtain the much-needed Piranha V armored vehicles, and the Bucharest Mechanical Plant will be developed, becoming one of the production capacities for defense of strategic interest for national security.
I am confident that the next batch of Piranha Vs will be delivered to the military in less than a year and things will return to normal.
I will ask the Red Scorpions to test all Piranha V carriers in conditions as close as possible to those in the tactical field, in order to be sure that we can rely on them when needed.