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Romania Helicopter receives MBDA Marte ER air to surface missile.

MBDA has signed a contract with IAR Brasov to support the integration of the Marte ER missile on a maritime helicopter platform for the Romanian Naval Forces, based on the Airbus H215M rotary-wing platform.
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Hs125 in flight non armed configuration (Picture source: Airbus)

Revealed in a press release dated May 23, 2024, MBDA announced that the Marte ER missile will enable the Romanian Navy to conduct rotary anti-surface warfare missions, with an agreement in partnership with the predominantly public company IAR Brasov and Airbus on the weapon systems integration.

Marte ER represents the latest generation of the family, designed to operate in all weather conditions and deliver effects at distances greater than 100 km. MBDA states that the missile features a flexible mission profile to offer automatic or manual waypointing, salvo firing, and a ground attack capability.

The Marte missile family has also been integrated on several platforms for the Italian Armed Forces and various export customers. In April 2017, Airbus Helicopters and IAR signed an exclusive agreement for the support of the twin-engine multirole H215M helicopters in Romania, which enabled IAR to become the main contractor for the H215M for any future orders from the Romanian Ministry of Defense aimed at replacing its aging fleet.

 Marte ER missile visual. ( Picture source:  MBDA)

In August of the same year, the cooperation agreement between Airbus Helicopters and IAR on the H215M was extended by 15 years. The agreement also covered cooperation between Airbus Helicopters and IAR on the production, assembly, customization, support, and maintenance of the H215M helicopters for the Romanian Armed Forces, as well as all export opportunities.

Airbus Helicopters Industries, a 10,000 m² factory based in Brasov, was inaugurated in 2016 and will house the production of the H215 in Romania.

It is understood that Romania will soon receive a pair of H215M helicopters, adapted for maritime operations.

Romania's defense spending will exceed the NATO benchmark
With its Black Sea coastline, Romania has been on the frontline of the war unfolding in Ukraine following Russia's invasion in 2022. Consequently, defense spending in Romania has seen a significant increase after 2023, with a year-over-year increase of more than 53%, according to GlobalData intelligence.

After this sharp increase, the forecast period 2025-2029 is expected to experience a more stable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of defense spending at 2.4%, with the budget ending at $9.7 billion in 2029. This makes the cumulative spending in 2025-2029 more stable at $46.3 billion, compared to $33.7 billion for 2020-2024.

Relative to the overall size of its economy, the percentage of GDP that Romania dedicates to its military will consistently exceed 3% during this period, far surpassing the minimum NATO target of 2%.

The Baltic States have recently requested that the NATO spending benchmark be increased to 2.5% of GDP, an increase from the current target, due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Moscow's ongoing territorial ambitions.

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