French company Naval Group has won a contract to build four corvette warships for the Romanian armed forces, the country’s defense minister announced on Wednesday, July 3.
“I strongly believe it’s an important moment for Romania’s naval forces which haven’t received any new equipment in the last 30 years,” Gabriel Les told reporters at a press conference.
French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly said in a statement that she “welcomes this decision which is fully part of the effort to built a strong and ambitious Europe in defense matters.”
Parly added that the contract would “secure more than 400 jobs on Naval Group’s sites over the next five years.”
La Roumanie choisit la France ! 🇫🇷🇹🇩
Quatre corvettes seront construites dans nos chantiers navals, deux frégates roumaines seront rénovées.
Coopération européenne ✅
Excellence industrielle ✅
Europe de la Défense ✅
Bravo à @navalgroup, on continue !
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) July 3, 2019
The statement said the contract would cover four new vessels and the renovation of a further two at a cost of €1.2 billion ($1.35 billion). Naval Group said it would build four new Gowind multi-mission corvettes and modernize two Type 22 frigates, as well as construct a new maintenance center and a training center.
The bid was won by the French company in association with the Constanta Shipyard, one of the criteria for the contract being that the construction will take place in Romania. The frigates will include Thales radar, and missiles made by MBDA, Reuters reported.
The Italian group Ficantieri and the Dutch group Damen were also fighting for the contract.
The bidding for the contract had previously been beset by scandal.
According to local media, Romanian officials had previously attempted to thwart Naval Group’s bid and award the contract to Damen instead for “political reasons.”
The attempts to frustrate Naval Group’s bid are suspected to have included an audit launched by the ministry in November, as well as the suspension of the call for tenders in January, which was followed by the case’s referral to military prosectors over “risks to the national security interest.”
Last month, the official in the defense ministry who had made that referral was fired.
The firing came a few days after Liviu Dragnea, who was widely seen as the most powerful politician in the country as the former head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, was jailed for corruption.
Gabriel Les refused to comment on the controversy surrounding the bid, underlining that the French group fulfilled the technical criteria and offered the lowest price.
Romania became a member of NATO in 2004 and recently started a program to enhance its military defense.
According to Les, Naval Group is due to build the first corvette within three years and the others will be delivered before 2026.
With reporting from AFP