Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Romania defence body backs F16 purchase plan

BUCHAREST, March 23 (Reuters) - Romania's Supreme Defence Council on Tuesday approved the acquisition of 24 second-hand F16 fighters produced by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) to modernise its air force.

"Taking into account that Romania does not have the needed financial resources to buy new ... planes, the Council okayed a defence ministry proposal to acquire 24 F16 used planes," the council said in a statement.

It said the plan would be subject to parliament's approval.

Romania is a U.S. ally and some analysts had said the F16 was a likely choice.

The economic crisis complicated the NATO member's effort to seal a planned multi-billion euro fighter purchase, a deal aimed at replacing its elderly Soviet-era MiGs.

Five aircraft were in the running, and the cost of the deal has been estimated at over 4 billion euros.

Romania's choices also included the F-18 from Boeing Co (BA.N), the Rafale from France's Dassault (AVMD.PA), the Grippen from Sweden's SAAB (SAABb.ST) and the Eurofighter from EADS (EAD.PA). (Reporting by Radu Marinas; editing by Tim Pearce)

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