With a defense budget of €7,8 billion per year, or 2% of the country's GDP, Romania is one of NATO's good students, even if this effort is handicapped by a GDP of less than $300 billion and one of the lowest per capita GDPs in the European Union. There increased defense effort, started in 2013 after Vladimir's return to the Kremlin and the significant hardening of the Russian posture in Eastern Europe, made it possible to increase the defense effort from 1,2% of GDP to 2% today, and of aim for 2,5% in the coming years, while the country can rely on dynamic growth of around 5% per year. The increase in budgets enabled Bucharest to launch several arms acquisition programs, both to modernize its armed forces and to westernize its equipment, which until now was largely made up of Soviet materials produced under license by local industry. Thus, in 2020, the Romanian air and ground forces began to receive the first of 7 MIM-104 Patriot anti-aircraft batteries ordered from the United States, while in 2016, the first of 17 F-16 used cars acquired from Portugal, followed this year by 32 other F-16s ceded by Norway. In 2019, the French Naval Group won the competition for the construction of 4 Gowind 2500 corvettes, while Bucharest has since started discussions with Paris for the acquisition of Scorpene submarines.
A few days ago, the Romanian Ministry of Defense presented its plan to modernize its land forces, this after announcing, a few weeks ago, the acquisition of 54 second-hand M1 Abrams heavy tanks from the United States. And the least we can say is that Bucharest is giving itself the means to achieve its ambitions, by putting no less than €10 billion on the table to acquire 298 infantry fighting vehicles, 41 SHORAD short-range anti-aircraft protection systems, around 155 485 mm self-propelled artillery systems, as well as 120 AIM-9 and AIM-16X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for arming its recently acquired F-XNUMXs, all with an ambitious delivery schedule.
The 298 infantry combat vehicles, for which €3 billion have been provisioned, including €2,5 billion for a first order of 246 armored vehicles, the delivery of which should begin this year, will have to replace some 150 MLI-84 derived from the BMP- 1 Soviet, in service since the mid-80s. They will evolve alongside the 227 Piranha V being delivered, while 150 additional copies could be ordered soon. Several VCIs meet the Bucharest specifications, and within the announced envelope, including the CV90 Mk4 which recently won the Slovak and Czech competitions, as well as the Rheinmetall KF41 Lynx selected by Budapest in 2020. However, the big favourite, today today is none other than the South Korean K21, after the state corporation ROMARM signed, at the beginning of February, a Memorandum of Understanding for the production of armored vehicles with the South Korean Hanwha, following the example of what was done in Poland regarding the K2 tanks and the K9 self-propelled guns. Economical with a public unit price of less than $5 million, powerfully armed with a 40mm auto cannon, and very mobile thanks to its 750 hp engine giving it a power/weight ratio of 29 hp per ton, the K21 has indeed arguments to put forward, especially accompanied by an effective industrial agreement, especially since the planned budget envelope (€10m/armoured vehicle) offers great freedom of configuration to Romanian negotiators.
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