Romania on Thursday confirmed its plans to buy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Türkiye, hours after reports suggested such intentions.
Romania plans to buy three UAV systems from Turkish drone magnate Baykar along with logistics support for an estimated $300 million (TL 5.47 billion) before tax, the country’s Defense Ministry said.
The ministry said it has requested approval from the Romanian parliament to begin the tender process to acquire 18 Bayraktar TB2 drones destined for its ground forces as part of the country’s NATO targets and its military endowment plans.
“The acquisition for which approval has been requested will be initiated from 2022, depending ... on funding possibilities,” the ministry said in a statement.
Romania, a NATO member since 2004, plans to raise defense spending to 2.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) next year from 2% at present, President Klaus Iohannis said in March, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The country, which shares a 650-kilometer (400-mile) border with Ukraine, is host to a U.S. ballistic missile defense system and, as of this year, has a permanent alliance battlegroup stationed on its territory.
Earlier this year, Romania’s government approved a bill to buy 32 second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Norway.
French firm Naval Group and Romanian company Santierul Naval Constanta have yet to finalize a deal to sell Gowind navy corvettes to Romania as well as renovate two existing frigates for a total of 1.2 billion euros ($1.2 billion), with a decision potentially seen in September.
The country’s biggest procurement contract to date has been a multiyear 4 billion euro U.S. Raytheon Patriot surface-to-air missile system, with the first shipment delivered in 2020.
The TB2 armed drones are known for taking out some of the most advanced anti-aircraft systems and advanced artillery systems and armored vehicles. The drones demonstrated this capability in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh and have lastly been hugely popular in Ukraine, where they helped destroy Russian artillery systems and armored vehicles.
Baykar has export deals with 24 countries for TB2 drones, its CEO Haluk Bayraktar said on Thursday, without naming them, up from 22 in August.