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Romania’s Naval Ambitions – An analysis of current acquisition programs

George Visan   |   Special report  |   07/19/2018   |   20 Pages

Executive Summary

Faced with a growing Russian military threat in the Black Sea, Romania has decided to increase its defense spending and modernize is military capabilities. In 2017 Romania began an ambitious ten year re-armament program worth € 8.9 billion, part of the pledge made to its NATO partners to spend 2% of GDP on defense. This analysis takes a look at the naval refurbishment program that Romania will undertake in 2017-2026. It examines the components of the naval modernization program from the perspective of the capabilities they will offer to the Romanian Naval Forces and of how they compare with current and future naval threats in the Black Sea. While the level of ambition reflected in these programs varies a lot, the current acquisitions will reinforce the deterrence value of Romania’s fleet.

Corvette program: The centerpiece of Romania’s naval modernization process is the acquisition of four multirole corvettes estimated at € 1.6 billion. These ships should replace the four Tetal I and Tetal II class corvettes of the 50th Corvette Squadron in about 7 years. Launched by Dacian Cioloș’s caretaker cabinet on November 29, 2016, the multirole corvette program has gone through a convoluted and long acquisition process that is still ongoing at the moment of writing. From the government’s perspective, the main purpose of the corvette program is the development of an industrial base for building military vessels. The report discusses the pros and cons of the direct award contract (the procedure chosen by the Romanian government), the cancellation of the initial corvette award and the new corvette program approved by the government in February 2018 while offering an overview of the current contenders. The desire of the Romanian government to play a more active part in the Romanian shipbuilding industry (i.e.: developing a local industrial capacity to build military vessels), while an ambitious objective, has been pursued in a somewhat incoherent manner. Furthermore, the analysis argues that six corvettes instead of four would represent a stronger insurance policy, since in naval matters, quantity is as important as quality.

Submarines program: The decision to consider acquiring three diesel-electric attack submarines is momentous for Romania’s security and defense. A Romanian submarine squadron would form a potent NATO deterrent force on the eastern flank. The program would start after 2020 and would represent an adequate, if not belated, response to the militarization of the Crimean Peninsula and the rapid pace of modernization of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Submarines are a practical and economical alternative to manpower- and maintenance-intensive large surface combatants in an A2/AD infested naval environment. While acquiring submarines represents a wise decision that will increase Romania’s security in the long term, building submarines is an entirely different matter, and Romania should not venture in such an undertaking in the short or medium term.

Tarantul class modernization program is the least ambitious program. Disconnected from the rest of Romania’s naval programs, it is not aimed at creating a new capability. Rather than invest in old platforms, Romania’s naval forces should look towards new and advanced ones that are better suited for the threat environment in which the Romanian navy will operate after 2020.

Finally, the report discusses the future of Romanian coastal defense and anti-ship missile system, and brings to the fore factors to be taken into consideration by the naval planners in the selection of the type of anti-ship missiles, as well as the missing pieces in the current acquisition programs.

The Black Sea threat environment

The current threat environment in the Black Sea has deteriorated significantly since 2014. According to Romanian defense officials “Moscow has reached the military wherewithal to control two thirds of the entire Black Sea basin”.[1] Russia has deployed a plethora of anti-access and area denial systems aimed at keeping NATO from reinforcing its Black Sea members in case of a conflict and splintering the alliance by driving a military wedge between its eastern flank and other members.

In just four years, Russia has deployed 6 Kilo class diesel electric attack submarines, 3 guided missile frigates and a number of smaller surface combatants in the Black Sea. All of these military assets can be equipped with long range Kalibr cruise missiles that can hit targets 2500 km away. Moreover, Russia has launched a naval building program in Crimea, at More Shipyard in Feodosia.[2] While currently Moscow is building small surface combatants in the Black Sea, in the future it could build larger ships like frigates and destroyers. Kremlin’s message to its neighbors in the Black Sea is clear: first, it is here to stay (in Crimea) and second, it is going to re-build and exploit the peninsula’s strategic and military potential.

Besides ships, Russia has deployed high performance aircraft and long range air defense systems in Crimea and on the Black Sea coast. These aircraft regularly conduct patrols close to NATO air space and, sometimes, harass alliance aircraft and ships in international airspace and waters. Furthermore, in order to emphasize its new ownership of Crimea, the Kremlin has deployed P-800 Oniks mobile supersonic anti-ship missile launchers in the region and is adapting Cold War era silos in the peninsula to house the same missiles.[3]

In the near future Russia may deploy hypersonic “wonder weapons” in the Black Sea, the ones mentioned by president Vladimir Putin during his annual address to the Russian Parliament, on March 1, 2018. Recent reports indicate that Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles (with a range of 2000 km carried aboard upgraded MiG-31BM high speed interceptors) may have already been deployed in the Southern Military District. If the information is accurate and Kinzhal has reached an initial operational capability with the Russian Air Force, then all NATO bases in the Black Sea are now within striking range of this weapons system.[4] Current and future surface combatants and submarines from the Black Sea Fleet may be upgraded in the near future[5] with 3M22 Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missiles which can hit targets at a range of 400 km at eight times the speed of sound. In short, this is the threat environment in which Romanian Naval Forces will operate in for the foreseeable future.

Current state of the fleet

The 2017-2026 military modernization program has a strong naval component centered on three main programs: the acquisition of multirole corvettes, modernization of two frigates and a submarine program. These programs aim to create new and cutting edge capabilities while modernizing the fleet – basically bringing the Romanian navy into the twenty first century.

In the past 20 years, the Romania Naval Forces have been largely neglected and their ships and equipment are hopelessly outdated. The last time a Romanian military vessel was launched from a Romanian shipyard was in 1998. After that, Romania basically took a naval holiday.

In 2003 Romania acquired two used Type 22 frigates (Broadsword class) from the United Kingdom as part of the military modernization program to join NATO. These are the most capable naval combatants of the Romanian Naval Forces, however they are rather obsolete and require extensive overhaul. The modernization of these two ships has been in the works since 2004, when they entered service, however, a combination of neglect and economic troubles meant that the process has yet to be started.

A more ambitious program for the Romanian Naval Forces is the building of four multirole corvettes, which are meant to replace the current ships serving in the 50th Corvette Squadron. Plans to acquire multirole corvettes have been in the works since 2006. However, the economic and financial crisis of 2008 postponed any acquisition plans.

The most ambitious naval acquisition program has been announced by the minister of defense Mihai Fifor at the beginning of 2018: three diesel-electric attack submarines. This program should start after 2020 and will see the building of all the three submarines in a Romanian shipyard – or at least this is how Mr. Fifor envisages the program presently.

These are the main naval acquisition programs Romania is pursuing, but not the only ones. Besides new ships and submarines, the Romanian Naval Forces will acquire new ground based anti-ship missiles for coastal defense and all three Tarantul class fast attack craft are going to be modernized until 2026.

The corvette program – a convoluted acquisition process

The centerpiece of Romania’s naval modernization process is the acquisition of four multirole corvettes estimated at € 1.6 billion. These ships should replace the four Tetal I and Tetal II class corvettes of the 50th Corvette Squadron in about 7 years.

As part of the offset agreement linked to this program, the two Type 22 frigates (Broadsword class) of the Romanian Naval Forces, Regele Ferdinand (F-221) and Regina Maria (F-222), must be overhauled and upgraded. The corvette acquisition has been bundled together with the frigate modernization because the latter program has failed twice. In 2016 a tender was put forward for the modernization of the two Type 22 frigates, but the winner, an association between a Romanian company and a Turkish one, could not execute the contract as it did not receive approval from the weapons suppliers to integrate their systems on the ships.[6] The frigate modernization program was valued at € 200 million suggesting a rather modest increase in capability.

The direct award controversy

The multirole corvette program was launched by Dacian Cioloș’s caretaker cabinet on November 29, 2016. The Romanian government selected Damen Shipyards and their Sigma 10514 class multirole corvette for a direct award contract.[7] This was a starting point of a convoluted and long acquisition process that is still ongoing at the moment of writing.

According to the Ministry of Defense[8] the decision (of a direct award) taken by the Romanian government in 2016 was based on a thorough analysis of the corvette classes available on the market. Thirteen corvette types were analyzed and, initially, the Sigma 9813 class was selected as the optimum type for the Romanian navy. After further consideration, the Sigma 10514 class was selected as it was technically superior to the Sigma 9813 and it could be built in Romania, at Damen Galați shipyard.[9] The main advantages listed in support of the Sigma class selection were that it is a modular design, can be built in Romania and the ships can be delivered in 7 years. Furthermore, the Sigma 10514 is equipped with diesel-electric propulsion which represents an advantage for a surface combatant in antisubmarine warfare (ASW).

The main purpose of the corvette program from the government’s perspective is the development of an industrial base for building military vessels. Damen was supposed to build all four ships in Romania and, as part of the offset deal, create a maintenance facility for the Sigma class corvettes and modernize the two Type 22 frigates. In many respects, Romania was asking a lot from Damen: four ships to be delivered in 7 years and built in a local shipyard, generous offset package, while everything had to fit in a € 1.6 billion budget. However, if the program was successful, Damen would have consolidated its business in Romania and would have dominated Romania’s nascent military vessels industry.

Just as preparations were being made to draw up the contract for the four ships, politics intervened. According to the Romanian law, all defense contracts over € 100 million have to be approved by parliament and the Cioloș cabinet (2015-2016) failed to get the parliament’s approval for the program. On December 11, 2016, Romanians went to the polls and elected a new parliament. The election was won by a center left coalition led by the Romanian Social Democrat Party (PSD). Citing irregularities in the previous cabinet’s policy making process[10] and the lack of a competition[11], the PSD led cabinet of Sorin Grindeanu (January-June 2017) cancelled the decision to buy the corvettes from Damen.[12] Nevertheless, the corvette program was not discarded. In fact, it was among the 8 major defense acquisitions approved by Romania’s parliament in 2017.[13]

The government didn’t satisfactorily explain the decision to cancel the Sigma class selection. Under closer scrutiny, the arguments put forward by the Grindeanu cabinet and the opponents of the award do not hold water. The initial decision taken by the Romanian government was not a contract award, rather a selection of a certain type of ship class with terms set for the acquisition process. In 2016, Damen was selected as a single source partner for a Romanian defense program. The contract would have been awarded if the negotiations with Damen would have been successful. Then, the government would have sent the contract to Parliament for approval or rejection.

Indeed, a direct award raises a lot of questions. First, there is the issue of efficiency: wouldn’t it have been more economically efficient to set up a tender? Second, a direct award contract, especially one that is over € 1 billion automatically raises corruption issues more so in Romania, which is one of the most corrupt countries in the European Union. However, there are strong arguments in favor of the direct award.

First, the speed with which Russia has militarized Crimea and has deployed new vessels in the Black Sea, effectively increased the capabilities of its Black Sea Fleet and changed the regional military balance in favor of the Russian Federation.

Second, the ships making up Romania’s 50th Corvette Squadron are obsolete and barely interoperable with NATO forces. Moreover, the failure of the modernization program of the Type 22 frigates has raised questions over the deterrent value of the Romanian Naval Forces and its contribution as a service to the defense and security of Romania. One of the advantages of the direct award to Damen, at least on paper, was that it could have solved two pressing issues for the Romanian navy: the lack of new vessels and the need to upgrade existing capabilities.

Third, Damen Galați shipyard has experience in producing military vessels and it is NATO certified. The Romanian Defense Ministry was well aware of the yard’s capabilities as it ensured quality control for the Royal Netherlands Navy when the shipyard was building the joint support ship HNLMS Karel Doorman.[14] Consequently, the industrial risk associated with building the four corvettes was reduced.

Faced with these facts, the cancellation of the initial decision concerning the corvette program is difficult to comprehend and to defend. The cancellation pushed the start of the program by at least a year. Why then was the award cancelled? Two explanations can account for this ill thought decision. First, the change in government brought by the 2016 elections also meant a reappraisal of Romania’s defense priorities. Modern air defenses and increasing the firepower of the land forces where the first priorities of the PSD led cabinet. Consequently, Romania initiated the acquisition process for Patriot air defense systems[15] and HIMARS[16] artillery systems while postponing the corvette acquisition program. The second explanation for the cancellation of the initial corvette award has to do with the way the PSD led cabinet interpreted the requirement of creating a national military shipbuilding capability by launching the corvette program. In the elections, the party ran on nationalist platform which proposed the state to play a much more active role in the economy.

Paradigm shift: “Let’s build a little boat”

Politics plays an important role in any defense acquisition process and this is true also in Romania’s naval plans. In the case of the corvette program, the state would like to be more than a partner and the beneficiary of such an enterprise. Moreover, a military shipbuilding industrial capacity centered on Damen Galați shipyard means that a foreign company has control over the process of designing and building military vessels for Romania, a country that until the late ‘90s designed and built its own ships.

As such, the new government wanted to play a more active part in the Romanian shipbuilding industry, although the most profitable shipyards in the country are now privately owned and the government has shown little management skills in running such enterprises. Prime Minister Mihai Tudose[17] (June 2017-January 2018) put forward his cabinet’s approach to create a military shipbuilding industrial capability: “We discovered that we have some skills, how the Romanian government can acquire assets so we can have our own shipyard. And I tell you we’re going to have it, a state owned shipyard (…) Maybe we are going to build some frigates for the Army (sic!) and we will maintain them there. Maybe we are going to build a little boat there [in Mangalia – GV]. It is not possible for a country with access to both the Danube and the Black Sea not to have a shipyard to build a little boat”.[18]

In January 2017 the Romanian government decided to use its pre-emption right to acquire Daewoo Mangalia which was being sold by its parent company.[19] Damen Shipyards Group and Daewoo Heavy Industries had already reached an agreement concerning the sale of the Romanian shipyard for $ 26 million.[20] However, the government stepped in and blocked the transaction, which had already been cleared by the Romanian competition watchdog.[21]

After protracted negotiations, Romanian authorities and Damen Shipyards Group reached an agreement whereby the Dutch company will acquire the majority stake in the Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries and then will cede 2% of its shares to “Șantierul Naval 2 Mai Mangalia”, a state owned company which was the main minority shareholder in the shipyard.[22] Although the Damen Shipyards Group will not own a second shipyard in Romania, it will become the minority shareholder in the Mangalia Shipyard and will be in charge of day-to-day operations.[23]

Where is the corvette program headed now?

In February 2018, the Romanian government approved the new corvette program for the Romanian Naval Forces.[24] The new program maintains the same requirements as the one from 2016[25] while increasing the displacement of the corvette classes eligible for consideration to up to 3,500 tones[26] which opens up the field for other bidders, not only Damen. The ships should be capable to conduct missions in at least two domains out of three: anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and antisubmarine warfare (ASW).[27] More importantly, the winner of the contract will be selected through a competitive dialogue.[28]

After cancelling the initial award for the corvette program, the Romanian authorities began attracting possible partners and contractors for the new program. Before launching the new acquisition process, Romanian decision makers met with important naval shipbuilding companies in Europe and proposed industrial partnerships with the Romanian shipbuilding industry for potential bidders. Without such a partnership or a local production facility, not all of the ships can be built in Romania.

In 2017, government officials met with representatives from Italy’s Fincantieri Spa[29] and France’s Naval Group. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning industrial cooperation was signed between Naval Group and Șantierul Naval Constanța for the building of the corvettes, if the French design is selected by the Romanian government.[30] Fincantieri, on the other hand, already owns two shipyards in Romania (Vard Brăila and Vard Tulcea) and fulfils the requirement of being capable of building the ships in Romania.

Five shipbuilding companies have qualified for the initial evaluation: Naval Group – France, Damen Shipyards Group – Netherlands, Fincantieri Spa – Italy, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems – Germany, and STM –Turkey.[31]

Defense minister Mihai Fifor hopes to have the program allocated and a contract signed by the end of 2018.[32] In this case, work on the new ships and the modernization of the Type 22 frigates should begin in 2019. It is not clear what will come first: the keel laying for a new corvette or the start of the modernization of the two frigates.

Of the five companies that have initially qualified for the program, Damen Shipyards Group and Fincantieri Spa are favorites because they have production facilities in Romania. But Naval Group could be a surprise winner as it offers a technological advanced design that could be built in Romania. However, Naval Group could ask to build one ship in France and the rest in Romania, as Constanța Naval Shipyard has only built civilian ships for the past two decades and this is how the company usually operates with foreign customers.[33]

Although it seemed a controversial decision at the time, the initial award of the corvette program to Damen Shipyards Group was grounded in the mounting Russian military threat in the Black Sea, the company’s experience with building military vessels in Romania and the lack of modern Romanian naval ships. The cancelation of the award has pushed back the start of the program by at least two years without providing a valid reason. If work begins in 2019, the first ship should be commissioned in the Romanian Naval Forces in 2022-2023, as opposed to 2020-2021 in case of the 2016 decision.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that all ships will be built in Romania as the government demands. The winner of the award could use the inexperience of most of Romania’s shipyards with building military vessels to ask that the first ship to be built in the country of origin in order to support the local industry. Ironically, the competitive approach adopted by the Romanian authorities regarding the corvette program increases both the industrial and political risk of the program. Political and diplomatic pressure could be used to constrain the Romanian government to accept such a change.

Administrative and financial risks further threaten the program. It is quite possible that one of the bidders could contest the award if it considers its offer din not receive a fair treatment. In that case the corvette program will be postponed even further. Economic problems may affect the building of the ships, as in the past two years Romania’s deficits have risen due the government’s erratic fiscal policy. If another economic crisis may affect Romania in the near future, defense spending will be cut and shipbuilding will be affected.

The way in which successive cabinets after 2016 have pursued the objective of developing a local industrial capacity to build military vessels has been incoherent. The best proof in this sense comes from the decision to curtail the acquisition of Daewoo Mangalia by Damen Galați. If the Romanian government asked during the acquisition process for the creation or development of an industrial capacity to build a military vessels as well as a maintenance facility as part of the offset agreement, why buy a shipyard? A shipyard cannot survive only on government military contracts, which usually are few and far between, even if we are considering potential exports. It requires civilian orders in order to be lucrative. The only explanation for the decision to obtain a controlling stake in Mangalia Shipyard is political – the government doesn’t trust private companies with developing such a capacity. However, the approach by which the Romanian government obtained the controlling stake also suggests that the authorities are aware of their limited administrative and management capacity.

In addition, there is no guarantee that the competitive dialogue procedure will lower the € 1.6 billion value of the program. A ship may be cheap to build, but the weapons systems, the sensors and the electronic warfare systems that will arm it cost as much as the ship itself. By the end of the competitive dialogue procedure, it may become evident that despite the technical performance of a certain design, an agreement cannot be reached because the cost is higher than the estimated program value. If this were to happen, the program will have failed.

Finally, the Romanian government should consider expanding the corvette program from four to six ships. Three arguments support such a development. First of all, Russia has deployed six submarines in the Black Sea and the Romanian navy uses corvettes as anti-submarine platforms. Second, the Type 22 frigates (even if modernized and upgraded) represent an obsolete design and are close to their decommissioning date. Moreover, the other frigate, Mărășești (F-111), is too obsolete to warrant an upgrade and should be decommissioned in the near future.[34] An increased order of new ships can make up for the limited strength of the frigate flotilla. Six corvettes represent an insurance policy against further escalation of the instability in the Black Sea and reinforce the deterrence value of Romania’s surface fleet. Third, usually the 50th Corvette Squadron operated six ships. In naval matters, quantity is as important as quality. Consequently, when negotiating the acquisition contract, the Defense Ministry should consider adding options for two more ships after 2026.

Submarines “made in Romania” – a capability too far?

On January 29, 2018 defense minister Mihai Fifor made a shocking statement during his hearing in the joint session of the Parliament’s defense committees: in the medium term, Romania will acquire a submarine built in one of its shipyards.[35] On February 20, the defense minister stated that the submarine program will have three boats and currently the ministry is analyzing what type of submarine best fits Romania’s requirements.[36] Mr. Fifor mentioned that the program should start after 2020, be a medium and long term project, and be awarded after a competitive dialogue procedure. Furthermore, the submarine program too is subject to Parliament’s approval.

The decision to consider acquiring submarines is momentous for Romania’s security and defense. It enhances its position in the Black Sea as a maritime player and shows that Romanian decision makers and military planners are aware of the growing military challenges and threats in the region. Three submarines will increase both the deterrence capability of the Romanian Naval Forces as well as the country’s ability to project power in and outside the Black Sea.

Submarines are versatile and multifunctional platforms. Traditionally, the submarine’s main mission has been to sink surface ships and other submarines. Today, a submarine can attack land targets using cruise missiles as amply demonstrated in recent years by both American and Russian submarines. Mines can be laid stealthily by a submarine in places an enemy does not expect or are heavily patrolled by surface combatants, thus cutting the sea lanes of communications. However, a submarine can also perform missions that do not require the overt use of force, due to its inherent characteristic to be hard to detect, such as intelligence gathering and surveillance. Special forces can be deployed discretely from submarines for reconnaissance or direct action missions.

In today’s world, the main striking power of navies rests with aircraft carriers and nuclear attack submarines.[37] However, nuclear attack submarines represent a capability that only great power navies can afford. For smaller powers, the diesel-electric attack submarine represents the practical and economical alternative. Nevertheless, diesel-electric boats are a force to be reckoned with, especially in littoral waters. The sinking in 2010 of the South Korean corvette ROKS Cheonan by a North Korean Yono-class midget submarine in disputed waters[38], shows that even the most crude and basic diesel-electric submarine poses a relevant and lethal threat to a surface vessel. Technological advances such as air independent propulsion (AIP), permanent magnet motors[39] and improved battery capacity (including lithium-ion batteries) increase the range and the time spent underwater by conventional propulsion submarine – consequently increasing their lethality.[40]

A Romanian submarine program represents an adequate, if not belated, response to the militarization of the Crimean Peninsula and the rapid pace of modernization of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. A Romanian submarine squadron would form a potent NATO deterrent force on the eastern flank, increasing both the anti-surface as well as the anti-submarine capabilities of the alliance. Furthermore, considering the deployment of A2/AD assets, including high performance anti-ship missiles, submarines are more survivable in a conflict than surface combatants. For the Romanian navy it will be cost effective to replace manpower- and maintenance-intensive frigates with submarines as the main striking force of the Romanian navy.

Operating as well as maintaining submarines is going to be challenging for Romania. Although submarines are not manpower intensive they are capital intensive. Romania’s experience with operating submarines is, unfortunately, limited. In World War II, the Romanian navy operated diesel electric submarines, two of which were assembled locally at Galați. Towards the end of the Cold War, in 1985, the communist regime acquired a Kilo class submarine from the Soviet Union.[41] The communist authorities had their own submarine program which envisioned acquiring eventually three submarines in 15 years (one per five year plan).[42] However, Delfinul was the only submarine acquired before the Cold War ended. The submarine program was discontinued after 1990 and Delfinul remained in active service until 1996 when its batteries ran out.

For about a decade Delfinul was the most powerful asset operated by the Romanian Naval Forces. Despite this, no attempts were made after 1996 to replace its batteries or to upgrade Delfinul in order to make it interoperable with NATO vessels and submarines. Poland, which also acquired a Kilo class submarine from the USSR about the same time Romania did, still maintains it in active service (though is undergoing repairs after a fire).[43]

If Romania had maintained Delfinul in active service it could have been used to increase its anti-submarine warfare capabilities by providing surface vessels with a submarine to train with. Furthermore, an active submarine would have provided a bridge capability towards new, more modern submarines by having a pool of trained personnel in submarine operations and the facilities to maintain and repair them. When the new submarine program will start, the Romanian Naval Forces will have to begin from scratch and consequently invest more upfront for training personnel and creating maintenance facilities for the boats.

If Romania wants to have a successful future submarine program, the lessons of the recent past should not be forgotten. On November 15, 2017, the Argentine diesel electric attack submarine ARA San Juan disappeared and has been declared lost with all hands while en route to its home base after completing a series of exercises.[44] Although the wreck has not been located yet and the causes of the sinking have not been established, it seems that lack of funding and poor maintenance are the main culprits for this deadly submarine accident.[45] This is a reminder for both current and future operators of submarines that funding and maintenance are crucial for the safety and operational availability of submarines. Furthermore, the unfortunate sinking of the ARA San Juan proves that any mistakes or lapses while operating submarines has, in most cases, deadly consequences.

Operating a submarine is challenging, however more challenging for a country is to build submarines on its own. Although it is feasible for Romania to acquire and operate three submarines in the medium and long term, building them is not. Romania has neither designed nor built modern submarines. Its shipbuilding industry has limited experience building military vessels. Moreover, Romania does not produce the high tensile steel necessary to fabricate the submarine’s hull, the machinery required to operate it, the sensors and the weapons systems to arm it. Despite Mr. Fifor’s optimism regarding Romania’s ability to build submarines, this is the harsh reality. It is more than likely that Romania will have its submarines built abroad by a foreign shipyard, or at most, the boats will come in pre-fabricated modules which will be assembled (i.e. welded together) in a local shipyard.

In summary, acquiring submarines represents a wise decision that will increase Romania’s security in the long term. However, building submarines is a completely different matter and Romania should not venture in such an undertaking in the short or medium term. Efforts should concentrate on creating facilities for maintaining and repairing submarines, so that the future submarine force is capable of achieving high maximum operational availability. Furthermore, land attack cruise missiles should be considered as part of the weapons fit for the new class of submarines to further increase their deterrence role against Russia’s A2/AD zone in the Black Sea.

Tarantul class modernization – the road to nowhere

Among the modernization plans put forward by Romania[46] one stands out not because it is too ambitious, but simply because it is somewhat out of touch with the rest – the upgrade of the Tarantul class fast attack craft (or missile corvettes). This program is disconnected from the rest of Romania’s naval programs because it is not aimed at creating a new capability and it is of dubious operational value.

The three Tarantul class fast attack craft have been operational since 1990-1991, so by the time these ships are fully modernized, they would have spent 35 years in commission. For a small surface combatant, 35 years of service is a lot which raises serious questions about their tactical usefulness and operational effectiveness in the future.[47] Even if their entire weapons systems and communication suits were to be replaced with modern NATO compatible systems, it will mean investing in obsolete platforms. From an economic point of view, the investment doesn’t justify the potential returns. From a military point of view, the outcome of this upgrade program is more than debatable.

If Romania’s naval modernization plans are successful, then a national military shipbuilding industrial base will be available in the mid-2020s. Rather than invest in old platforms, Romania’s naval forces should look towards new and advanced ones. The threat environment in which the Romanian navy will operate after 2020 will be far more dangerous.

The Tarantul class corvettes fulfill the role of a rapid reaction force to any surface threats that may appear in Romania’s exclusive economic zone or near its territorial waters. The main tactical advantages of the Tarantuls are their speed and firepower. In prosecuting surface threats, the missile boats coordinate their actions with ground based coastal defenses equipped with mobile anti-ship missiles. However, these fast attack craft are vulnerable to air attack, their radar systems and electronic support measures (ESM) are limited and outdated, and their anti-ship missiles are obsolete (SSN-2C/D Styx). Furthermore, three boats are not enough to provide a credible deterrence posture in the current or near future threat environment in the Black Sea.

If Romania’s naval planners want to maintain a fast attack craft capability after 2020 they should consider another approach that takes into consideration technological developments as well as Romania’s industrial naval base. The corvette program, if successful, is likely to create a strong industrial base which will allow for the building of other surface combatants. Romanian Naval Forces should consider acquiring four or six fast attack craft in the medium term rather than modernizing the Tarantul class missile boats. These new missile corvettes should be larger than the Tarantuls in order to allow for the mounting of more capable sensors and an adequate air defense capability, as well as having enough space and displacement available for future upgrades.

In addition, Romanian naval planers should take into consideration a joint approach for countering attacks or incursions in the EEZ or territorial waters. Rather than using just a specialized class of surface combatants and land based anti-ship missiles, other assets should also be employed. Helicopters equipped with light anti-ship missiles can easily destroy small surface combatants, including fast attack craft such as the Tarantuls that might venture close to Romania’s coast. Drones (UAVs) can provide intelligence, exchange information with other platforms and attack, if necessary, raiders or intruders alone or in coordination with other assets. A major advantage of UAVs is that they are expandable – if one is lost either by enemy action or by accident, no personnel is lost with it.

Coastal defense – rising up to the challenge?

In the Black Sea, NATO is currently outgunned in terms of anti-ship missile performance. Russian missiles are longer ranged and faster than their NATO counterparts currently deployed on alliance ships, submarines, aircraft or coastal defense systems. Moreover, some of Russia’s anti-ship missiles such as the Oniks can also be employed to attack targets on land. If Russia successfully develops and deploys Zircon hypersonic missiles in the near and medium term, it will further consolidate its advantage in anti-ship missiles.

Turkey is the only NATO member in the region which has a defense industry capable of manufacturing anti-ship missiles and has two ongoing projects. In 2017 Ankara tested ATMACA anti-ship missile[48] and is developing and deploying SOM-A stand-off air to surface missiles that can hit surface ships and land targets.[49] However, neither of these two missiles can compete in terms of range and speed with most of Russia’s similar systems deployed in the region.

Russian and NATO anti-ship missiles deployed in the Black Sea
Missile Speed Range Country of origin In service with
3M54K/3M54T Kalibr/ SS-N-27 Sizzler Mach 2.9 (final stage) 440-660 km Russia Russia
3M55/P-800 Oniks/SS-N-26 Strobile Mach 2.5 300 km Russian Federation Russia
3M22 Zircon / SS-N-33 Mach 6-8 Low level: 250-500 km[50]

Ballistic: 740 km[51]

Maximum: 1000 km[52]

Russian Federation Russia

(under development)

4K80 /P-500/SS-N-12 Sandbox Mach 2.5 550 km USSR/Russian Federation Russia
3M80/P-270/ SS-N-22 Sunburn Mach 2.5 120-250 km USSR/ Russian Federation Russia
P-120/SS-N-9 Siren Mach 0.9 120-160 km USSR/ Russia Russia
3M24/Kh-35 U/SS-N-25 Switchblade Mach 0.9 130-300 km USSR / Russia Russia
URPK-5 Rastrub / SS-N-14 Silex Mach 0.95 10-90 km USSR/ Russia Russia
Kh-22/ Kh-32 Mach 3.3 / 5 600 km/ 100 km USSR / Russia Russia
RGM-84/AGM-84/UGM-84 Mach 0.9 220 km/ 278 km/ 315 km USA Turkey
MM38 Exocet Mach 0.92 40 km France Turkey; Bulgaria;
4K40/P-20/21/ SS-N-2C/D Styx Mach 0.95 80 km USSR Russia;


ATMACA Not available Not available Turkey Turkey

(under development)

SOM Mach 0.94 250 km Turkey Turkey

(under development)

Table compiled using data from open sources: Federation of American Scientists and CSIS Missile Defense Project

If Romania’s naval ship-building and modernization plans are successful, its surface combatants will be equipped with a new type of anti-ship missiles. It is more than likely that the same type of anti-ship missile will be selected to arm both the coastal defense batteries as well as surface combatants in order to save funds and increase operational effectiveness. As part of the modernization package approved by Parliament in 2017, € 200 million are earmarked for the acquisition of three mobile coastal defense systems which will replace the Soviet made 4K51 Rubezh systems.[53]

Given the deteriorating security and threat environment in the Black Sea, Romanian decision makers should seriously consider what type of anti-ship and coastal defense missile system is going to be selected. Western anti-ship missile systems which are currently in service neither have the range nor the speed of their Russian counterparts. Nevertheless, given the Black Sea’s geography, long range is not really an issue. For example, a Russian surface combatant or submarine only needs to leave Sevastopol roadstead to launch a missile that could hit a target moored in or off Constanța harbor. No supersonic or hypersonic missile is currently produced by a NATO country[54] and, even if it were, it is unlikely that Romania could afford such a system at present or in the near future.

If Romania can’t compete in terms of range and speed with Russian anti-ship missiles what is to be done then? In selecting anti-ship missiles the Romanian should take into consideration three factors.

First, the new weapon system should be deployed from as many platforms as possible: surface combatants, coastal defenses, aircraft and submarines. This approach has the advantage of reducing acquisition and maintenance costs across the board, while increasing the effectiveness and interoperability of Romania’s armed forces when it comes to prosecuting surface naval targets.

Second, Romania should invest in new technology so that the new system is future-proof. Most of the current western anti-ship missile systems available on the market can trace their origins to the 1970s (MM40 Block 3 Exocet, RGM-84 Harpoon, RBS-15 Mk 3). Although few anti-ship missiles have been developed in the west in the past two decades, Romania should try to acquire a recently deployed system rather than opt for a legacy system however upgraded the latter may be.

Third, in order to deal with Russia’s comparative advantage in speed and range the emphasis should be placed on low observability (stealth). Currently there are only two anti-ship missiles that are designed from the ground up to be low observable: the US AGM-158C LRASM (which is still undergoing tests with the US Navy) and the Norwegian Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The latter is in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy and more importantly for Romania, it equips Poland’s coastal defense forces[55] which face a similar threat in the Baltic Sea. Furthermore, the Norwegian missile has recently been selected by the US Navy to arm its two Littoral Combat Ship classes, Freedom and Independence.[56] Interoperability with Romania’s main strategic partner represents an asset in considering the acquisition of a future anti-ship missile system.

Whatever coastal defense and anti-ship missile system Romania selects in the near future it should try to integrate locally its maintenance and part of its production as part of any offset deals associated with the contract. This reduces life cycle cost and may have a positive impact on Romania’s defense industry by allowing future involvement in anti-ship missile development. Current defense minister Mihai Fifor has stated that Romania is interested in securing (through offset, maintenance and production) parts of the coastal defense system and its missiles.[57] Furthermore, consideration should be given to increasing the number of coastal defense systems if the security environment in the Black Sea continues to deteriorate.


Romania’s naval programs reflect an increased threat perception in the Black Sea coming from Russia and a balanced approach for deterrence. They also reflect the belated realization that Romania cannot talk of having a Black Sea policy without credible means to enforce it. The level of ambition reflected in these programs varies a lot. On one hand, the most ambitious program is the acquisition and building of three submarines, while on the other hand, the least ambitious is the modernization of three old Tarantul class missile corvettes. While it is commendable that the Romanian government aims not only to obtain new military capabilities, but also a robust national military shipbuilding capability, when it comes to the latter aim it has acted incoherently. However, Romania’s two decade naval holiday has left an administrative and industrial vacuum that is challenging to fil in the short term. Furthermore, these ambitious programs are vulnerable to delays due to politicking. In short, the direction is good, the prospects are promising, but the application of these plans requires greater institutional focus.

The missing pieces from Romania’s naval modernization programs

This analysis cannot be closed without taking a look at what should come next for the Romanian navy in terms of future acquisition plans.

Logistic ships. Neither the corvette program, nor the frigate modernization program have budgeted logistic ships to support the 50th Corvette Squadron or the 56th Frigate Flotilla. Presently, Romania operates only one logistics ship – Constanța, which is obsolete and hasn’t been deployed with either of the two Type 22 frigates on their international missions. If Romania is going to maintain two surface squadrons, it need one logistics ship for each. It may be that logistics vessels are going to be built later, after the modernization programs are implemented. Until modern logistic ships are built, Romania will have to rely on its allies to refuel and replenish its ships at sea during NATO and EU missions and it will not be capable to deploy its vessels for long missions.

Submarine rescue vessel. A squadron of three submarines requires a rescue ship to be on call in case of an emergency. The recent loss of the ARA San Juan in unknown circumstances in the South Atlantic during a storm and the inability of the Argentinian government to locate its wreck highlights the challenges and risks of operating submarines. A submarine rescue vessel will reduce the inherent risks associated with operating submarines. If the Romanian submarine program goes forward, a submarine rescue ship should be included. Until such a ship is built and becomes operational Romania will be dependent on its NATO allies for submarine rescue efforts.

Helicopters. In current naval operations helicopters play a crucial role. They hunt and sink submarines, extend the range of a ship’s sensors, attack surface ships, insert and extract special operations teams, carry out and support amphibious assaults, replenish ships and carry out combat search and rescue missions at sea. Romania’s naval helicopter program came to a close in 2015 after the building of three IAR 330 Naval helicopters for the ships of the 56th Frigate Flotilla. The four new multirole corvettes which should be built in the near future will require helicopters, yet the present naval modernization plans do not mention them. Moreover, all the corvette types that are vying for the Romanian corvette contract have hangars and aviation facilities for naval helicopters. Over the past four years, the Romanian government has expressed its interest in modernizing its aging helicopter fleet. It is likely that if Romania launches a helicopter acquisition program in the short and medium term, naval helicopters will be acquired for the new multirole corvettes.

Mine warfare ships. Before the advent of the economic crisis Romania planned to acquire four minehunters along with four corvettes. However, these plans came to naught. If the corvette program was revived in 2016, the future of Romania’s mine warfare capabilities remains in doubt. The four minesweepers and one minelayer that make up the sea going mine warfare capability of the Romanian Naval Forces are old and obsolete. Since 2015 these ships have been overhauled and have received modest updates, but no plans have been made public concerning their replacement.

Future surface combatant. Even if Romania finally succeeds and manages to bring its two Type 22 frigates at full capability in terms of weapons and sensors, the underlying reality will not change: these are obsolete ships that are fast approaching their decommissioning. At best, the Romanian navy may extend their operational life by as much as ten years. In addition, the 56th Frigate Flotilla is not a balanced force – it is made up of old ships without a uniform design and in some cases equipped with obsolete weapons systems which are not NATO compatible. In truth, it is a hollow force. However, this is the best that Romania can muster at present in terms of naval power and the Type 22 frigates are the only ships fully interoperable with their NATO counterparts.

The modernization of the two Type 22 frigates should be the start of an internal debate inside the Romanian Naval Forces concerning force structure, threat matrix and operational requirements for new surface combatants. Presently and for the foreseeable future, the Black Sea will not be a body of water where surface ships will survive for long in case of intensive conflict. Romanian naval planners should consider shifting from frigate type ships as the mainstay of its surface forces to corvettes or littoral combat ship (LCS) type of vessels, while developing a submarine capability as the main striking force of the service. Already by preparing the launch of a submarine program the Defense Ministry acknowledges that the safest place for a ship in the Black Sea is, ironically, beneath the waves.

Annex I: Corvette classes proposed for the Romania multirole corvette program*
Builder Corvette class Displacement Capabilities Range Weapons
Naval Group Gowind 2500[58] 2,500-3,100 t ASW, ASuW, AAW; 3,700-5,000 nm at 15 knots 1 x Medium caliber gun (57 mm Bofors or 76 mm OTO Melara SR);

2 x 20 mm or 30 mm weapons;

16 x VL Mica surface to air missiles;

8 x Exocet MM40 Block 3 or 8 x Kongsberg NSM anti-ship missiles;

2 x 3 torpedo launchers for lightweight antisubmarine torpedoes;

1 x 10 t helicopter;

Damen Shipyards Group Sigma 10514[59] 2,365-2,575 t ASW, ASuW, AAW; 5,000 nm at 14 knots 1 x Medium caliber gun (57 mm Bofors or 76 mm OTO Melara SR);

2 x 20 mm weapons;

12 x VL Mica surface to air missiles;

1 x CIWS (35 mm Millenium Gun or RIM 116 RAM);

8 x Exocet MM 40 Block 3 or Harpoon anti-ship missiles;

2 x 3 torpedo launchers for lightweight antisubmarine torpedoes;

1 x 10 t helicopter;

Fincantieri Spa[60] Abu Dhabi class


1,620 t ASW, limited ASuW, limited AAW;[61] More than 3000 nm at 14 knots 1 x 76 mm OTO Melara SR;

2 x 30 mm cannons in Marlin turrets;

2 x 2 Exocet MM40 Block 3;

1 x CIWS RIM 116 RAM;

2 x 1 torpedo launchers for lightweight antisubmarine torpedoes;

2 x 1 torpedo defense systems;

1 x 10 t helicopter;

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems K130 Braunschweig class corvette[62] 1,840 t ASuW, limited AAW, No ASW; 4000 nm at 15 knots 1 x Medium caliber gun (76 mm OTO Melara);

2 x MLG 27 CIWS (Mauser 27 x 145 mm automatic cannon);

2 x 2 Anti-ship missiles (RBS-15 Mk 3);

2 x CIWS RIM 116 RAM;

Mine laying capability;

Helicopter deck but no helicopter hangar;

UAV landing deck and hangar;

STM Ada class (MILGEM project)[63] 2,400 t ASW, ASuW, limited AAW; 3,500 nm at 15 knots 1 x Medium caliber gun (76 mm OTO Melara);

2 x 12.7 mm STAMP weapons stations;

1 x CIWS RIM 116 RAM;

8 x Harpoon anti-ship missiles;

2 x 3 Mk 32 lightweight torpedo tubes;

1 x torpedo defense system;

1 x 10 t helicopter.

*These are the offers put forward in the initial phase of the acquisition process in April 2018.[64] Four offers qualified for evaluation by June 2018.[65] It appears that STM’s offer was rejected.


  1. Valentin Bolocan, “Ce fac aliații NATO pentru că Marea Neagră să nu ajungă „lac rusesc””, Adevărul, June 3, 2018, available at
  2. The Maritime Executive, “Russian Navy Resumes Shipbuilding in Crimea”, May 11, 2016, available at
  3. Kukil Bora, “Russia Will Deploy First Bastion Surface-To-Surface Missile System In Crimea By 2020”, International Business Times, February 7, 2015, available at
  4. Pavel Felgenhauer, “Russia Seeks Total Military Domination Over the West”, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 15, No. 36, March 8, 2018, available at
  5. Provided the development of this missile is successful. For now, it seems Kremlin uses Zircon along with other “wonder weapons” for propaganda purposes.
  6. ȘtirileTVR, “Fără radare și sisteme de rachete pentru fregatele Regele Ferdinand și Regina Maria. Modernizare amânată”, TVR, April 4, 2017,—i-sisteme-de-rachete-pentru-fregatele-regele-ferdinand—i-regina-maria–modernizare-amanata_816207.html#view
  7. Victor Cozmei, “România vrea să cumpere direct patru corvete multifuncționale produse la șantierul olandez Damen din Galați: 3,6 miliarde de lei pe patru ani”, November 3, 2016,
  8. Notă de fundamentare – Hotărârea Guvernului privind achiziţia de către Ministerul Apărării Naţionale a produselor şi serviciilor cuprinse în programul strategic de înzestrare ,,Corvetă multifuncţională”, 2016, p. 2, available at
  9. Ibid, pp. 2-4.
  10., “Dragnea vrea să pună cruce achiziției de corvete produse în România de o firmă olandeză”, February 23, 2017, available at
  11. Andrei Luca Popescu, “Cum au picat corvetele între Guverne. Ministrul Apărării: „Va fi o procedură competitivă”. Despre ameninţarea Rusiei: „Eu sper că nu este reală””, Gândul, March 16, 2017, available at
  12. MApN, “Comunicat nr.76”, March 13, 2017, available at
  13. Știrile TVR, “Parlamentul a aprobat 8 programe de înzestrare, cerute de armată”, May 10, 2017, available at–cerute-de-armata_817518.html#view
  14. Cpt. Bogdan Oproiu, “7.000 de chemări”, Observatorul militar, No. 40 (October 16-20, 2013), p. 11.
  15. Jen Judson, “It’s official: Romania signs deal to buy US missile defense system”, Defense News, November 29, 2017, available at
  16. J. Judson, “State Dept. clears $1.25 billion HIMARS sale to Romania”, Defense News, August 18, 2017, available at
  17. Mihai Tudose, former Economy Minister, succeeded Mr. Grindeanu as prime minister in June 2017, after internal infighting in PSD.
  18. Afrodita Cicovschi, “Şantierul naval Mangalia ar putea deveni companie de stat. Guvernul a blocat vânzarea pachetului majoritar către olandezii de la Damen”, Adevărul, January 11, 2018, available at
  19. Idem.
  20. Dana Ciriperu, “Tranzacţie majoră, prin care se salvează un obiectiv industrial mare din România: Grupul olandez Damen, care are un şantier la Galaţi, cumpără şantierul naval din Mangalia de la sud-coreenii de la Daewoo”, Ziarul Financiar, November 10, 2017, available at
  21. Mădălin Pănăete, “Consiliul Concurenţei a autorizat preluarea Daewoo Mangalia de către olandezii de la Damen”, Ziarul Financiar, November 15, 2017,
  22. Adina Ardeleanu, “Datoriile Șantierului Mangalia către Daewoo vor fi preluate cu discount și convertite în acțiuni”. Bursa, April 4, 2018, available at
  23. Mihai Soare, “Șantierul Naval Mangalia, redus la stadiul de atelier”, Cotidianul, May 11, 2018, available at
  24. Sînziana Ionescu, “Marina României va avea „Corveta multifuncţională“. Guvernul a aprobat programul celor patru corvete ce vor fi realizate în ţară”, Adevărul, February 15, 2018, available at
  25. Notă de fundamentare, pp. 1-8, available at
  26. Circumstanţele şi procedura specifică aferente programului esenţial de înzestrare „Corvetă multifuncţională, p.1, available at
  27. Idem.
  28. Ibid, p. 2
  29. MApN, “Comunicat Nr. 277: Întâlnire a secretarului de stat Dușa cu reprezentanții companiei Ficantieri, la sediul M.Ap.N.”, September 1, 2017 available at,-la-sediul-M.Ap.N.
  30. Ambassade de France à Bucarest, “Déplacement de Madame l’Ambassadrice Michèle Ramis à Constanţa, April 25, 2018”, available at
  31. Valentin Bolocan, “Licitaţie aprinsă între 5 mari constructori de nave pentru dotarea Marinei Militare române cu corvete”, Adevărul, April 17, 2018, available at
  32. Daniel Popescu, “Fifor, despre procedura construcţiei corvetelor multifuncţionale: Sperăm ca până la finele anului să putem desemna un câştigător”, Agerpres, May 10, 2018, available at–105869
  33. Naval Group, “Beginning of Construction of the First Gowind 2500 Corvette Built in Egypt”, April 4, 2016, available at
  34. Richard Scott, “Romania looks to revive Type 22 frigate upgrade programme”, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, February 2, 2015,
  35. Liviu Dadacu, “Mihai Fifor, ministrul pentru Apărare: Forţele Navale Române, înzestrate cu un submarin produs într-un şantier românesc”, Mediafax, available at
  36. Florentina Peia, “Fifor: Programul referitor la submarine este în analiză; achiziţia ar putea începe după 2020”, Agerpres, February 20, 2018,–58282
  37. Submarines equipped with ballistic missiles (SSBN) represent a second strike capability for nuclear powers in case of nuclear war.
  38. John Sudworth, ”How South Korean ship was sunk”, BBC, May 20, 2010, available at
  39. Siemens, “Permasyn”, available at
  40. Tyler Rogway, “Japan Goes Back To The Future With Lithium-Ion Battery Powered Submarines”, The Drive, February 17, 2017, available at
  41. Petre Opriș, “Cateva programe militare romanesti din perioada 1970-1985. Contracte cu China si “nevoia” de submarine.”, September 2, 2015, available at
  42. Darius Martinescu, “Submarinul românesc, reparat pentru a nu se scufunda”, România liberă, December 28, 2011, available at–reparat-pentru-a-nu-se-scufunda-248858
  43. Polityka Insight, “Armaments Report”, January 2018, p. 3, available at
  44. BBC, “Argentina missing navy submarine: Search stepped up”, November 18, 2017, available at
  45. Seth Cropsey, “Lessons From the Loss of ARA San Juan”, Hudson Institution, December 13, 2017, available at
  46. Agerpres, “Forţele Navale anunţă pentru perioada următoare achiziţia primei corvete multifuncţionale noi”, January 26, 2017, available at
  47. George Vișan, “Romania’s Naval Forces at crossroads”, pp. 15-18, ROEC Policy Paper, March 14, 2017, available at
  48. Bilal Khan, “Turkish Navy Announces Successful Test-Fire of ATMACA Anti-Ship Missile”, Quwa, October 16, 2017, available at
  49. Kerry Herschelman, “Som-A missile enters service in Turkey”, Jane’s 360, June 15, 2017, available at
  50. Dave Majumdar, “Russia’s Lethal Hypersonic Zircon Cruise Missile to Enter Production”, National Interest, April 22, 2016, available at
  51. Vladimir Karnozov, “Russia and India Test Hypersonic and Supersonic Missiles”, AINonline, April 25, 2017,
  52. Dmitry Sudakov, “Russia tests stratospheric missile to destroy fleets”, Pravda, August 24, 2016, available at
  53. Victor Cozmei, “Ministrul Apararii cere Parlamentului sa aprobe un program de 9,3 miliarde de euro pentru inzestrarea Armatei”, Hotnews, April 11, 2017, available at
  54. France and UK are developing a supersonic stealth missile called Future Cruise / Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW).
  55. Navy Recognition, “Norway and Poland test fired Naval Strike Missiles”, June 9, 2016,
  56. David B. Larter, “It’s official: The U.S. Navy has a new ship killer missile”, Defense News, June 1, 2018, available at
  57. Radio România Cluj, “Ministrul Mihai Fifor, în vizită la garnizoana Cluj-Napoca”, March 29, 2018,
  58. Data compiled based on the ships being built for the Egyptian Navy and Royal Malaysian Navy
  59. Data compiled based on the ships being built for the Indonesian Navy and Mexican Navy
  60. As per builder’s website: According to Fincantieri, the corvettes proposed for the Romanian contract are enhanced Abu Dhabi class: Victor Cozmei, “Competiția pentru corvetele multifuncționale produse în România…”, Hotnews, June 29, 2018,
  61. According to the configuration currently in service with the UAE Navy.
  62. Naval Technology, “K130 Braunschweig Class Corvette”,
  63. Naval Technology, “Milgem Class Multimission Corvettes”,
  64. Valentin Bolocan, “Licitaţie aprinsă între 5 mari constructori de nave pentru dotarea Marinei Militare române cu corvete”, Adevărul, April 17, 2018, available at
  65. V. Bolocan, “Patru oferte rămase în competiţie pentru programul de corvete al Forţelor Navale Române. Cu se s-ar putea dota Marina Militară”, Adevărul, June 17, 2018, available at

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