WE HAVE SCHEDULED DEFENSE SPENDING OF 9.3 BILLION EUROSArmament procurement offers benefits that the Government is refusing

Radu Sârbu (translated by Cosmin Ghidovean)
English Section /

Armament procurement offers benefits that the Government is refusing

The law stipulates that public procurements are made through calls for tenders, and for the military procurement, it stipulates that any foreign legal entity that sells weapons to Romania has the obligation to offset at least 80% of the amount of the contracts of over three million Euros. It is the lowest percentage in any of the European Union member states, which demand between 100% to 120%. The offset can represent the transfer of technology and/or of part of the production of the components of the equipment to the purchasing country.

After many years of the army getting ignored and budget allocations that seemed more like jokes, it took the White House demanding the splitting of the military bill, for the Romanian political decision makers to accept that the army needs equipment.

Last year, the Country's Defense Council has approved the Program concerning the transformation, development and supply of the Romanian Army by 2026 and beyond. The program concerns system acquisitions and support equipment, for the benefit of the ground, air and naval forces. As a result, 9.3 billion Euros has been stipulated for the coming year, for spending on armament: half, for short and medium range missiles, and the rest for F-16 aircraft, corvete, APCs and helicopters.

What needs to be done was clear and has already been decided. How it gets done is non-transparent and apparently hasn't been decided. Transparency, with that kind of money on the line?!? But this is where the usual line comes to mind: after all, we are Romanians; no call for tenders, no offset, but direct awarding of the contract! The calls for tenders only seem to be happening behind closed doors; hence the indecision...

The only contracts awarded through a government decision, but also directly, are those for the procurement of the planes and missile systems.

But the others...

The corvetele were "awarded" by the Cioloş government to the Dutch from DAMEN SHIPYARDS, but Mr. Dragnea would rather be the one to "award them", and so he has put the kibosh on everything and found a pretext: "it's not the government, but the Parliament that needs to make the decision", even though the acquisition is a purely executive activity. He has dithered the responsibility, and he has then replaced the minister of defense, who apparently made a mistake but shifting the balance towards the French of NAVAL GROUP.

The contract amounts to approximately 1.5 billion Euros, so we can assume how pleasant the government's dreams are.

The APCs will cost almost 1 billion Euros. The contract has been "awarded" to the Germans of RHEINMETAL and to the Americans of GENERAL DYNAMICS.

The helicopters will be "awarded" to the Americans and the French. The attack helicopters, to the Americans of BELL HELICOPTERS. (Insane: attack helicopters?!? Who are we attacking?). According to its own statements, apparently AIRBUS HELICOPTERS has earned a promise as well: it will be "awarded" the contract for the transport helicopters.

There is big money at stake, the beneficiaries are known, but what about complying with the law? If no calls for bids have been held, at least have the offset apply! But it's out of the question!

The statement by the new minister of Defense, Mr. Gabriel Leş, perfectly illustrates the saying "do as I say, not as I do!": From a political point of view, the needs of the army are correctly covered once the two percent of the GDP gets spent here in Romania. It is very simple to come and spend that money to buy weapons from abroad, but it is better to buy from Romania to help the economy horizontally". It sounds good and it is in agreement with the point of view of those involved in the national defense industry, expressed clearly by the CEO of the Constanţa Naval Shipyard, Mr. Radu Rusen: "The realization of the peak technology transfer is absolutely essential and creates the premises of a real development of the Romanian military industry".

But what is the actual situation?

Instead of making it so that - as stipulated by the law! - 80% of the over nine billion Euros contributes to the recovery and consolidation of the Romanian defense industry, the Romanian politicians have put up a PR stunt, inaugurating with full fanfare a 1000 sqm meter workshop, pompously called "a factory". Specifically, a very minor investment of the Israeli group ELBIT, where "the equipment needed for the assembly of the turrets for the over 200 Piranha 5 armored carriers, for which Romania paid 895 million Euros to General Dynamics". The turret of the APC is made in Israel. The components needed for its assembly will be made in the new "production facility" of Măgurele. In other words, probably the bolts and the fasteners, probably.

That's it, instead of over 700 million Euros, which is what 80% of the price of the APCs amounts to.

The Americans - missiles and airplanes - are keeping mum. The Germans - armored carriers - are talking about a joint venture in Moreni, but the provisions of the contract are unknown. The French want to assemble the helicopters at Ghimbav, in other words to outsource them; not one word about any transfer of technology, or the involvement of the Romanian companies!

Deliberately, the strategic interest of relaunching the national defense industry is being completely ignored, and that is not just antinational, but illegal as well!

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