Romania is doing well in procurement, but we need investments

During this time, the Romanian defense industry still seems frozen in time, and changes are occurring very slowly.

Like Poland, our country has a strong partnership with the United States, which is based on the purchase of modern military equipment by the Romanian Army (for example, Patriot anti-aircraft systems, HIMARS missile systems).

This is also doubled by the consistent presence of American troops and equipment on Romanian territory, which represents a “security umbrella” for our country. We are talking here, in particular, about the American military stationed at the Mihail Kogălniceanu Base, but also about the Aegis Ashore System – the Deveselu Shield – a facility owned by the US Army that protects Romania’s territory against the most serious threats posed by ballistic missiles.

However, 20 years after joining NATO, Romania produces, in the old style, ammunition of Soviet caliber, 152 mm.

The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Gheorghiță Vlad, showed the other day, in an interview for Free Europe, that the Romanian defense industry is not capable of supplying the Romanian Army with NATO caliber ammunition.

“We must incorporate in our production capacity all the calibers and all the equipment that the Romanian Army has acquired in the last period of time. (…) We must all switch to NATO calibres. That is, if NATO only uses caliber 155, we produce caliber 152 in the country for nothing!”, explained the head of the Romanian Army.

Moreover, General Gheorghiță Vlad confirms that Romania does not have any production facility for artillery ammunition, NATO caliber 155 mm.

“I repeat, at the current level of requirements, we would need 30 years for the national defense industry to be able to produce the ammunition we need”, warns General Gheorghiță Vlad, Chief of the Defense Staff and Commander of the Defense Forces Structure .

The EU proposes to work with the defense industry to increase ammunition production

The European Union aims to partner with the defense industry to speed up and increase production of much-needed munitions in the war in Ukraine, but also to replenish munitions stocks at home, according to Ursula von der Leyen, quoted by Reuters .

At the conference in Munich, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed that the EU bloc do what it did during the pandemic, when it prepared for the large-scale production of a vaccine against COVID19.

Advance Purchase Agreements

“We could think, for example, about advance purchase agreements, where we give the defense industry the opportunity to invest in production chains to become faster and increase the amount of ammunition they can deliver.” , said the head of the EU Executive.

Von der Leyen stressed that the EU cannot wait months and years to replenish its own stockpiles of weapons or send ammunition such as 155mm artillery shells to Ukraine.

“Now is the time to accelerate and expand the production of standardized goods that Ukraine desperately needs, for example standardized ammunition,” she added.

Romtehnica, a company of the Romanian MOD, started, at the end of July 2023, a restricted tender for the purchase of three battalion-level 155 mm howitzer systems, including the related ammunition, a contract with an estimated value of over 4.1 billion lei ( without VAT), according to an announcement published in the Public Procurement Electronic System (SEAP).

Earlier this year, defense sources revealed that the only company to move on to the second phase is South Korea’s Hanwha Aerospace with the K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled tracked howitzers, due to a condition imposed by the Ministry of Defense for production on last years

According to the contract, in the first phase, Romania will purchase 54 howitzers needed to equip three battalions and approximately 20,000 artillery rounds.

The contract includes 54 tracked self-propelled 155 mm howitzers, and each system is composed of 18 howitzers, 9 reserve tubes, 12 ammunition transport and loading machines, 9 self-propelled artillery observation posts, 1 weather station, 3 technical means of evacuation of damaged equipment and 3 acoustic research systems.

At the same time, together with the Horse Howitzer System. 155 mm Battalion level, the supplier is obliged to deliver the following types of ammunition: 155 mm shot with explosive projectiles (17,352), smoke (324), lighting (324) and inert, for training (720).

What will be important will be what Romania will do after this contract, because the ammunition purchased is not enough even for a week of war, and the Romanian industry could be involved in replenishing the stocks if there is cooperation between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Economy.