Romania has acquired 18 Bayraktar TB2 combat drones, Turkey’s ambassador to Bucharest announced on Wednesday, as the NATO outpost seeks to modernize its army following Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.
“Romania, a friend, Black Sea neighbor and NATO ally is adding Bayraktar TB2… to its inventory,” Turkish diplomat Özgur Kıvanç Altan wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Romanian defense ministry confirmed the information to AFP.
Romania’s government, which launched the procedure for the acquisition of 18 unmanned combat aerial vehicles in September 2022, signed a contract worth 321 million dollars with Turkey’s Baykar company.
The drones are to be used by the country’s land forces.
Drones developed by the Baykar company — co-run by a son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — have been used in Azerbaijan, Libya and Ukraine. Kyiv used them in the first hours of Russia’s invasion last year.
Today, Turkey exports its relatively cheap and effective drones to 28 countries, particularly in Africa, according to the company’s management.
The TB2 is 6.5 meters long and half the weight of its US counterpart, the Reaper, carrying four laser-guided munitions.
Baykar says it can fly for 27 hours, at up to 220 kilometers per hour (137 mph), and is operational between 18,000 and 25,000 feet.
Spurred by the war in Ukraine, Romania — a NATO member since 2004 — has raised its defense spending to 2.5 percent of its GDP in 2023, up from two percent last year.
It has also intensified NATO missions — with several thousand soldiers on its soil — and pushed for the modernization of the country’s army.
Romania’s defense ministry is currently awaiting parliamentary approval to order 54 used US-made Abrams tanks, as well as submarines, anti-mine ships and new equipment for Romanian warships.
This month, Romania’s supreme defense council said it aims to buy the latest generation of American F-35 fighter jets, but it will likely take years for the acquisition to go ahead.