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BUCHAREST (Romania), October 6 (SeeNews) - NATO member Romania received the last three US-made F-16 fighter jets from Portugal on Friday, the defence ministry said in a press release.
The delivery is part of Romania's programme to replace its ageing fleet of Soviet-era MiG fighter jets with aircraft that comply with NATO standards. Last year, the country received the first nine F-16 fighter jets from Portugal under the programme.
The total cost of the squadron of F-16 jets is 628 million euro ($740 million), according to the defence ministry.
At the end of September, Romanian media reported that the country is in advanced talks to purchase 36 more F-16s directly from the United States.
Also in September, the defence minister said that Romania will buy its first Patriot anti-aircraft missile system by the end of the year, as well as 10 Piranha armoured vehicles.
In May, US security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin signed a contract with Romanian Air Force (RoAF) to deliver a training system for F-16 Falcon Fighters in 2019.
Romania, which joined NATO in 2004, plans to spend a total of 9.8 billion euro ($11.5 billion) until 2026 to boost its defence capabilities, the National Defence Council (CSAT) said in August.
A defence spending target of 2% of GDP was set at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014. Member states pledged to aim at spending 2% of their respective GDP on defence by 2024. The allies which were already meeting the NATO spending target pledged to aim to continue to do so. The states whose share of GDP spent on defence was below the target level also pledged to halt any decline in defence expenditure and increase spending in real terms as GDP grows.
In 2016, Romania's defence spending was 1.48% of GDP. In order to reach the 2%/GDP target, Romania has added 4.9 billion lei ($1.15 billion/1.07 billion euro) to its 2017 defence budget.
($= 0.8498 euro)