Romania Receives First Batch of US Patriot Missiles to Russia’s Annoyance
NATO and EU member and close US ally Romania received on Thursday, September 17, the first shipment from its procurement of Patriot surface-to-air missiles from the United States.
The first out of a total of seven Patriot systems was welcomed at an official ceremony in the Ion Bungescu National Air Defense Training Center in Capu Midia, in Constanta County, in Eastern Romania, near the Black Sea, The Romania Insider reported.
The total value of Romania’s contract with the producer of the Patriot missiles, US corporation Raytheon, is USD 3.9 billion.
The first system costs USD 910 million. Parts of it began to arrive in Romania in August. It is to become operational in 2021 following a training period.
The contract for the procurement of the Patrior missiles by Romania is to be executed in two phases. In the first phase, the Romanian Air Force will receive a total of four systems, while three more will be delivered during the second phase in 2024-2026.
“Romania is safer with the Patriot missiles on its territory; the Romanian citizens are better defended,” Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said during the ceremony at the Ion Bungescu National Air Defense Training Center.
“Romania decided to roll out a ten-year-long Army endowment program… which covers the strengthening of its defense capabilities. Romania follows its commitment to allocate 2% of its GDP for defense spending to carry out this endowment program,” Orban added.
“The strategic partnership between the United States and Romania is further materialized in a military and economic relationship that is beneficial to Romania,” the Romanian leader emphasized.
Romania has become the 7th member state of NATO and the 17th country to own the US-made Patriot missiles systems, Romanian Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca said.
Romania’s Patriot missiles are going to be part of an integrated air defense system also featuring newly acquired F-16 fighter jets as part of the country’s efforts to replace its communist-era Soviet-made military equipment with modern systems that are up to NATO standards.
Romania is one of only seven out of a total of 30 NATO member states presently meeting the pledge of spending more than 2% of its GDP on defense.
Romania’s procurement of the Patriot missile defense system from the United States has irritated Russia, a long-time regional geopolitical adversary.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made it clear that Moscow is opposed to any US missile systems in Eastern Europe, and would respond by building up further its own missile forces.
Since 2016, Romania has been hosting part of the US missile shield in Europe, at the Deveselu Base near the Danube River in the southern part of the country, another joint military project with the US adamantly opposed by Russia.
Washington says the missile shield in question is designed to protect European NATO members and US allies from missile threats from Iran.
Romania and Poland are the two staunchest US allies from among the former Eastern European satellite states of the Soviet Union.
Not unlike Romania, Poland has also signed a deal with US company Raytheon for the procurement of Patriot missiles, for an even larger sum, USD 4.75 billion.
Another NATO member from the region, Bulgaria, has inked a deal for the purchase of US F-16 fighter jets, worth over USD 1 billion with US producer Lockheed Martin.
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