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Unable to afford new military equipment, cash-strapped Romania is planning to buy a fleet of second-hand fighter jets from Portugal.
Romania’s Supreme Defence Council, CSAT, on Thursday approved the purchase of second-hand US F-16 fighter jets in order to replace a rapidly ageing fleet.
“Romania cannot afford to buy new fighter planes, so we will opt for used ones that can be used for the following 20 years,” Prime Minister Victor Ponta said.
Media reports say Romania is seeking to pay around 600 million US dollars over the next five years for the 12 jets from Portugal. The jets will be delivered from 2016.
As a NATO member, Romania is obliged to have fighter jets that are compatible with the Atlantic Alliance's equipment.
Plans to purchase 24 F16 used planes were announced several times in recent years. In 2011, Romania said it was mulling plans to buy secondhand US F-16 fighter jets as part of a possible regional project with Croatia and Bulgaria.
Earlier, in May 2010, the Supreme Defence Council approved the payment of 1.3 billion euro to purchase 24 used F16 aircraft to replace its Soviet-made MiG-21s.
But three months later the then Prime Minister, Emil Boc, announced that Romania could not afford such aircraft as the country cut public spending, to comply with an IMF programme.
To keep its reform policy credible for investors, the government must find common ground with the IMF and look for a new arrangement, experts say.