BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s armed forces received their first shipment of U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missiles on Thursday, part of efforts to upgrade the country’s military capabilities.
The missiles made by defense contractor Raytheon, as well as recent purchases of F-16 fighter jets, are also part of Romania’s pledge to gradually increase military spending to 2% of GDP by 2024, the minimum level demanded for NATO members. In 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump called on NATO members to increase defense spending to 4% of GDP.
Romania’s prime minister said the missiles made the country safer.
“The strategic partnership between the U.S. and Romania is further materialized in a military and economic relationship that is beneficial to Romania,” Ludovic Orban said.
Since 2016, Romania has hosted a U.S. ballistic missile system at the Deveselu military base, in the country’s south.
Russia has criticized the deployment of the defense system but Washington says it is needed to ensure the safety of NATO members from potential attacks by Iran.