Rheinmetall eyes contracts in Romania, says 8×8 Agilis project still on track


Rheinmetall is “very interested” in selling military vehicles to the Romanian army, in particular military trucks, and in producing ammunition and armament in Romania. The Business Review reports that the German group ensures that its new 8×8 amphibious armored personnel carrier “Agilis” project tailored for the Romanian army is still on track despite the procurement of armored vehicles from General Dynamics.


Rheinmetall eyes contracts in Romania says 88 Agilis project still on track
Romania has bought 227 General Dynamics Piranha 5s in six variants. The external parts in a different green color designate indigenous manufacturers. However, until official notification, Rheinmetall claims its Agilis project remains on track (Picture source: Army Recognition)


Romania’s Ministry of Defence recently announced a EUR 735 million multi-year procurement contract for almost 3,400 military trucks, and Rheinmetall expresses its interest in competing for it. Rheinmetall is very interested in providing additional vehicle fleets to the Romanian armed forces, in particular its military trucks which are used by many NATO partners including Germany. Rheinmetall has Romanian partners with an excellent service network in Romania, ensuring that a maximum of a localization and maintenance work would be done in Romania.

But the German group has more ambition in the country: armaments, protection systems and sensors for the navy, simulation and training systems for all branches of the armed forces and ammunition. Rheinmetall also says that its first major project in Romania, the production of the new 8x8 personnel carrier named Agilis, is still on track. In 2017, the Romanian government granted a contract to General Dynamics for 227 non-amphibious Piranha 5s, and many saw the contract as a threat for Rheinmetall’s own project. “The procurement of armored vehicles from General Dynamics is based on an urgent requirement from the Romanian Army to fulfill NATO obligations,” Rheinmetall told Business Review. “Our activities in Romania are following a different model focusing on a long-term engagement to help revitalizing the existing defense industry capabilities in Romania. In our Joint Venture “Romanian Military Vehicle Systems S.A.” together with our JV partner Uzina Automecanica Moreni, we are developing the new 8×8 Amphibious Armoured Personnel Carrier “Agilis”, tailored according to the specific needs of the Romanian Army,” the group added. However, the project is conditioned by a procurement contract. “This cooperation also includes production of ammunition and of armament in Romania. The condition is a procurement contract with the Ministry of National Defense for a total of 342 vehicles,” Rheinmetall said.

Romania claims to have increased its defense spending to 2 percent of GDP since 2017. Major US and Western European military contractors have engaged in a fierce battle over multi-billion contracts, aiming to strengthen a weak link on the eastern fringe of NATO. Romania’s need for military equipment is indeed huge: its military procurement, modernization and expansion plan for 2017-26 includes eight major projects, worth more than EUR 100 million each. Romania’s main procurement and modernization projects are: the acquisition of four multifunctional corvettes, rocket launcher mobile systems, the modernization of MLI 84 M combat machines, 8×8 and 4×4 armored personnel carriers, C4I systems, ASAM large-scale rocket systems, short and very short-range air defense (SHORAD/VSHORAD) systems and a multiple missile launcher (MLRS).

Other important projects include the expansion of the fighter aircraft fleet (from currently 12 F-16’s to at least 48, the current pilots being trained in Portugal which sold these F-16s), the acquisition of combat and utility helicopters, the upgrade of the training plane fleet (IAR 99 Soim), the modernization of the two British frigates (Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria), the acquisition of military trucks and the beginning of a small submarine fleet programme.

The problem is that Romania behaves like India: there are a lot of impressive tenders and calls for interest… but very few of them come true, as money is missing. Most of the manufacturers, whatever their activity sector, discretely complain of seeing very few actual orders. And when Romania claims spending 2% of its GDP in defense to meet the NATO benchmark, both the Romanian citizens and the foreign defense equipment manufacturers wonder where these 2% are actually spent, an embarrassing comment often made to Army Recognition during the last BSDA defense exhibition held in May.


 

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