The Romanian Ministry of National Defense has awarded a $321m contract to Turkish defence firm Baykar for the purchase of TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles.

The drones are expected to be delivered to Timisoara, where the Romanian Air Force previously operated the 93rd Air Base that housed MiG-23s before their retirement.

With this acquisition, Romania will become the second EU country after Poland to operate TB2s and the third European NATO member to order them beyond Turkey.

These purchases are part of Romania’s ambitions laid out in the transformation of the Romanian Army until 2040, which seeks to provide forces with new military equipment and weapon systems that ensure flexibility, expanded situational awareness, and increased firepower.

GlobalData reported that Romania intends to increase its defense budget by 2.8% compound annual growth in the period of 2023-2028. Last year, the country allocated roughly $8 billion for 2023, a year on year increase of 45.2%.

In efforts to modernize its air force, earlier this month, a statement issued on the website of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that Bucharest was also looking at buying F-35s. The acquisition of TB2s and F-35s will strengthen Romania’s defense capabilities and provide a boost to its military modernization efforts.

“The UAS systems to be purchased will be intended for the Romanian Land Forces. Each system includes six aerial platforms with target engagement capabilities (a total of 18 drones).

The program also involves the purchase of an initial logistical support package, necessary training and equipment,” the ministry said in a statement at the time.

The drones have also been exported to countries such as Burkina Faso, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. The TB2s are equipped with advanced technology and sensors that provide real-time intelligence and situational awareness to ground troops.

They have been used to successfully target enemy positions, conduct reconnaissance missions, and provide close air support to ground troops.

The procurement of the TB2 drones is a significant step forward for Romania’s military modernization efforts. The acquisition of advanced military technology such as the TB2s and F-35s will enable the Romanian military to enhance its operational capabilities and better protect its borders.