Croatian Government to Annul Decision on Israeli F-16 Jets

By 11 January 2019

ZAGREB, January 11 (Hina) - Croatia's government stated on Thursday evening that it would cancel its decision on the purchase of F-16 jets for the national Air Force, after an Israeli delegation earlier in the day informed Zagreb that it had not managed to obtain the approval from the United States for the delivery of the upgraded used 12 planes to Croatia.

After a meeting on the matter which took place in the main offices of the Croatian defence ministry when the Israeli side officially notified Zagreb that it had not got the final approval from Washington, the delegation led by the Israeli defence ministry's director-general Udi Adam was received by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in Government House.

The government says in a press release that the ministry's director-general Adam informed PM Plenković that Israel had not managed to obtain the approval from the US the sale of the F-16 jets concerned.

Pursuant to the notification, the government is going to annul the decision on the purchase of those fighter jets, however, it remains committed to the plan to modernise the Croatian Air Force.

Croatia should have be provided by Israel with the 12 used F-16 jets, and those were airplanes originally from the USA and enhanced in Israel. Washington, however, did not okay the Third Party Transfer (TPT) for the revamped planes.

At the start of this year, Zagreb set a deadline for Israel to inform it by 11 January if it would be able "to deliver the aircraft offered at the international tender and chosen by the Republic of Croatia in a transparent procedure," the Croatian ministry stated.

"The State of Israel is responsible for obtaining the approval from the United States for the supply of the aircraft configured as agreed by the Republic of Croatia. Upon receipt of the official stand from the State of Israel, the Ministry will inform the Croatian public without delay," reads the press release issued on 4 January.

"In the event that due to disagreement between the State of Israel and the United States the Republic of Croatia does not obtain the aircraft, the Government of the Republic of Croatia will annul the decision on the procurement of the chosen multirole fighter aircraft (dated 29 March 2018)." Croatia has managed the project in a systematic, professional and transparent way, acting in the national interest, the ministry underscored then.

Israel has officially informed the Croatian Defence Ministry that it cannot obtain the approval of the United States for the delivery of F-16 Barak jets to Croatia, Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević told reporters on Thursday.

After talks with our Israeli colleagues "I can tell you that the State of Israel has officially informed the Defence Ministry that ... it cannot obtain the necessary approval from the United States for the delivery of the Israeli F-16 fighter jets to Croatia," Krstičević told the news conference.

"Given that fact, the ministry will propose to the government to act accordingly," Krstičević said, adding that the two countries had not signed an agreement and that there are no financial consequences for Zagreb.

Krstičević stressed that Croatia "had done everything right" and that it was not at all responsible for this "unexpected complication" which Zagreb had no say in whatsoever. "We have asked all the questions and we have received appropriate guarantees," the minister said adding that Croatia "led this complex process from the beginning to the end systematically and responsibly, taking into account exclusively Croatian national interests."

He underscored that that the Croatian Defence Ministry remained opened to cooperation and development of relations with the defence ministry of "our partner, the State of Israel" and that Croatia still had the political will to maintain the ability of military air force developed during the Homeland War. "I am confident that this government will know how to realise that," he concluded.

The Israeli delegation at the talks, that lasted several hours, was led by the defence ministry's director-general Udi Adam who said that during the entire process Croatia and Israel had an open and professional dialogue. He said Croatia showed professionalism and right judgment in each step of the way and that it was unable to influence the outcome which is why it could not be held responsible for it.

Unfortunately, the conditions were not ready and we were unable to secure the appropriate TPT (Third Party Transfer)and carry out the project due to due to unexpected circumstances that were out of our control.

The meeting was arranged after the deal was halted due to disagreement between Israel and the U.S.A following the US objection to the sale of modified F-16 fighter jets to Croatia. The Israeli-US dispute has to do with who owns the technology and intellectual property rights.

More news on the acquisition of the F-16 jets can be found in our Politics section.