US greenlights $3.9bn Patriot missile systems sale to Romania

US greenlights $3.9bn Patriot missile systems sale to Romania
The US State Department has approved a potential foreign military sale for Patriot air defense systems, as well as supporting equipment and training to Romania, a Pentagon agency announced.

The possible sale of seven Patriot Configuration-3+ Modernized Fire Units, which include seven radar sets, 28 launching stations, and over 200 different type missiles among other equipment, was made public by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency this week.

Congress has been notified of the possible sale, worth $3.9 billion in total, it added, saying that to implement the proposed deal dozens of US government and contractor representatives will need to travel to Romania.

The prime contractors will be Raytheon Corporation in Massachusetts, and Lockheed-Martin in Texas, according to the announcement.

The request for the potential sale had come from the government of Romania, the agency said, adding that Bucharest had also asked for support, communications and training equipment for the units, as well as for spare and repair parts and personnel training.

"This proposed sale will enhance the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally that has been, and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress within Europe," the agency said in a statement.

Suggesting that the potential sale of the missiles "will not alter the basic military balance in the region," the Pentagon agency claimed the possible presence of the Patriot system in the eastern European country "will support Romania's needs for its own self-defense and support NATO defense goals" and help "deter regional threats."

Meanwhile, the US military have already deployed its own Patriot anti-aircraft systems to the Baltics, close to Russian borders. The Patriots arrived in Lithuania this week as part of the “Tobruq Legacy 2017” NATO war games, which will run until July 22.

Despite Moscow consistently criticizing NATO’s military buildup along its borders as a threat to national security and regional power balance, the US went ahead with a first-ever deployment of Patriot systems to the region, which is already in the midst of a Western military buildup.