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Romania to buy Watchkeeper X surveillance systems from Elbit Systems

Published 20/12/2022, 14:27
Updated 20/12/2022, 14:31
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Logo of Israeli defence electronics firm Elbit Systems is seen at their offices in Haifa, Israel February 26, 2017. Picture taken February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania signed a deal on Tuesday to acquire seven Watchkeeper X unmanned aircraft systems from Israeli defence electronics firm Elbit Systems for roughly 1.89 billion lei ($408.77 million), the defence ministry said.

Under the five-year deal, Elbit Systems will transfer some of the systems' production, testing and maintenance to Romanian defence firms, part of wider government plans to overhaul its state defence industry.

The Watchkeeper X systems are designed for intelligence gathering, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance.

Romania, a NATO member since 2004, will raise defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product in 2023 from 2% at present, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The country, which shares a 650-km (400 mile) border with Ukraine, is host to a U.S. ballistic missile defense system and, as of this year, has a permanent alliance battlegroup stationed on its territory.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Logo of Israeli defence electronics firm Elbit Systems is seen at their offices in Haifa, Israel February 26, 2017. Picture taken February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

In September, the ministry said Romania plans to buy three unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) systems from Turkish defence firm Baykar along with logistics support for an estimated $300 million before tax as part of the country's NATO targets and its military endowment plans.

($1 = 4.6236 lei)

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