Romanian H215M fleet to integrate Marte ER anti-ship missile

MBDA has signed a contract with IAR Brasov to support the integration of the Marte ER missile onto a maritime helicopter platform for the Romanian Naval Forces, based on the Airbus H215M rotary-wing platform, the company has stated.

Revealed in a 23 May 2024 release, MBDA said that the Marte ER missile will enable the Romanian Navy to carry out rotary-based anti-surface warfare missions, with the deal in partnership with majority state-owned IAR Brasov and Airbus on weapon system integration.

Marte ER represents the latest generation of the family, designed to operate in all weather conditions and deliver effect at ranges over 100km. MBDA states that the missile features flexible mission profile to offer automatic or manual waypoints, salvo firing, and land-attack capability.

The Marte family of missiles have also been integrated on a number of platforms for the Italian Armed Forces and several export customers.

In April 2017 Airbus Helicopters and IAR signed an exclusive agreement for twin engine H215M multi-role helicopter support in Romania, which saw IAR become the prime contractor for the H215M for any future order for the Romanian Ministry of Defence to replace its ageing fleet.

The Marte ER missile will offer an air-launched surface attack option for Romanian H215M helicopters. Credit: MBDA

By August of the same year, the agreement between Airbus Helicopters and IAR on H215M cooperation had been extended for a further 15 years. The agreement also covered cooperation between Airbus Helicopters and IAR on the production, assembly, customisation, support and maintenance of H215M helicopters heading to the Romanian Armed Forces, and any export opportunities.

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

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

Romania defence spending to exceed Nato benchmark

With its Black Sea coastline, Romania has had a front row seat to the unfolding war in Ukraine following Russia’s 2022 invasion. As a result, defence spending in Romania saw a huge increase after 2023, with a year-on-year increase of over 53%, according to GlobalData intelligence.

After this sharp rise, the forecast 2025–29 period is expected to see a steadier compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in defence spending of 2.4%, seeing the budget finish at $9.7bn in 2029. This makes the cumulative spend in 2025–29 $46.3bn, compared to $33.7bn for 2020–24.

Relative to the overall size of its economy, the percentage of GDP that Romania spends on its military with be consistently above 3% for this period, greatly exceeding the 2% Nato minimum target.

Baltic states have recently called for the benchmark Nato spending to increase to 2.5% of GDP, up from the current target, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s continued territorial ambitions.

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