U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Oct. 18 welcomed Romania’s decision to buy 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets from Portugal, saying the purchase would improve Romanian defenses and increase collaboration among NATO allies.
Hagel’s comments came during a meeting with Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa at the Pentagon, U.S. officials said.
Hagel also thanked Romania for agreeing to host an American-made missile defense site at Deveselu Base in Romania. U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller is scheduled to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the “Aegis Ashore” system later this month.
The system, which is expected to become operational in 2015, is designed to defend against Iranian ballistic missiles. It will include Raytheon-built Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors and a Lockheed Martin-made SPY-1 radar. On Oct. 17, Dusa visited a Lockheed Martin facility in Moorestown, N.J., where Aegis Ashore is being developed, to get an update on the system’s status, according to the Romanian embassy in Washington, D.C.
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