The European Union and NATO member countries have increased defense spending from 2% to 2.5% of gross domestic product this year in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Romania shares a 650km border with Ukraine and has seen the conflict move closer to its borders as Moscow has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian ports across the Danube River.
Last year it agreed to buy 32 second-hand F-16 fighters from Norway, which will be added to the 17 acquired from Portugal since 2016.
In July, it announced a regional training center for F-16 pilots that will ultimately be available to NATO allies and partners, including Ukraine.
The F-35 purchase was approved by Romania’s Supreme Defense Council (CSAT) in April, and the ministry said it was now asking Parliament to agree to start the purchase process this year.
The draft agreement includes training and logistics services, flight simulators and ammunition along with the plans, as well as an option for Romania to purchase another 16 F-35s later.
Final contracts are not likely to be signed before next year, and Defense Minister Angel Tilvar stated this year that the first plans would not be delivered before 2030.