Romania is set to accelerate a planned acquisition of second-hand F-16 jets from Norway, Reuters reported quoting the country’s defence ministry.

The development comes as Nato-member Romania grounded its MiG 21 LanceR jet fleet due to their high accident rate.

The report added that the move is not related to the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Ukraine.

In 2016, Romania first bought F-16 jets from Portugal as part of its plan to replace its ageing Soviet-era MiG planes.

Now, the ministry has expedited an initiative that involves procuring 32 additional F-16 jets from Norway. The procurement will help the country to raise two additional air squadrons.

The ministry was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The available resources of the aircrafts from the three squadrons ensure … their operation for a minimum of ten years and will form an air capability of transition to fifth-generation F-35 jets.”

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By GlobalData

Alongside, Romania will continue to operate the older jets received from Portugal.

Romania secured Nato membership in 2004.

Last month, Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis said that the country will increase its military spending to 2.5% of its GDP next year from existing levels of 2%.

More than 3,000 Nato troops are in Romania as the country addresses the ongoing Ukrainian refugee crisis. Around 714,000 Ukrainian refugees fled to Romania since Russia launched a military operation on Ukraine.

Recently, the UK has also deployed Typhoon fighter jets in Romania to support air policing missions.