Croatia to Launch New Fighter Jets Tender

By 14 January 2019

ZAGREB, January 14, 2019 - The government on Monday unanimously put out of force a decision on the procurement of Israeli F-16 multipurpose fighter jets. The cabinet meeting was preceded by a session of the Defence Council, where a report on the procurement of the aircraft was presented and the government was recommended to define a new model for the procurement of multipurpose fighter jets for the Armed Forces.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said today that a thorough analysis of all reasons that caused the suspension of the implementation of the deal with Israel would be conducted.

The notification provided by Israel that it could not obtain the approval from the USA for the Third Party Transfer was the main reason why Croatia decided to nullify its previous decision on the acquisition of the planes from Israel, according to Plenković's explanation.

The deal was halted due to disagreement between Israel and the USA 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.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević underscored the political will to maintain the combat capabilities of the Air Force developed during the Homeland War.

Answering questions from the press after meeting his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak, Krstičević reiterated that during their visit to Zagreb last week Israeli officials had confirmed that they had failed to obtain final approval from the United States for the sale of upgraded F-16 Barak aircraft to Croatia, even though they had preliminary approval for the deal. "It is solely their responsibility," he said.

"The Israelis reiterated once again that the entire process was highly professional and open on the Croatian part and that the people in Croatia showed a high level of responsibility, that we asked all the necessary questions and received all the necessary guarantees in this process," Krstičević said.

"The United States, our strategic partner in defence, emphasised from the outset, including in its latest statement, that it gave full support for the Croatian acquisition of F-16 aircraft from Israel," he added.

Krstičević said that Croatia would launch a new process to procure military aircraft. "We will close this process transparently and, with all this experience and knowledge, we will start a new process which will be the best, so that Croatia will get quality multipurpose aircraft it needs for surveillance of its airspace. This government will certainly do all it can for this to happen," the defence minister said.

More news on the Croatian Air Force can be found in our Politics section.