Defence Ministry Plans Purchase of Combat Aircraft, Helicopters, Fighting Vehicles

By 7 February 2020

ZAGREB, February 7, 2020 - The Defence Ministry's financial plan for 2020 envisages the purchase of multipurpose combat aircraft and Black Hawk helicopters, the construction of a coastal patrol vessel and the purchase of Bradley fighting vehicles.

Under the plan, the Military Academy will be transformed into a defence and security university to be named after Croatia's first president, Franjo Tuđman.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said at a government session on Thursday that the value of the financial plan was 5.3 billion kuna, an increase of 264 million from 2019.

Slightly less than 1.5 billion kuna of the funds is intended for public procurement procedures and close to 800 million kuna for financial obligations from previous years, namely multiannual financing and purchases abroad.

"These are huge funds and it is very important to ensure that all procurement procedures are transparent, and I will insist on rational and cost-effective spending," said Krstičević, adding that this was the fourth year in a row that his ministry did not have a procurement procedure marked as confidential.

Krstičević said that all procurement procedures were aimed at improving soldiers' living and working conditions, equipping the Army and securing the necessary level of operation of its equipment.

The minister said that 39 contracts, worth around 457 million kuna, would be signed with 30 companies in mid-February.

"The contracts are a significant contribution to Croatia's defence industry which employs more than 5,000 people. By signing the contracts at the beginning of the year we are giving domestic companies security and helping them plan their annual production and providing them with the necessary references to sell their products on foreign markets. The value of the contracts is around HRK 140 million higher than in 2019," he said.

He thanked members of the parliamentary committee on defence, headed by Social Democrat MP Igor Dragovan, for excellent cooperation, recalling that the committee gave its opinion on purchases worth more than five million euros before a procurement procedure was launched.

"Last year the committee gave a unanimously positive opinion on the purchase of Black Hawk helicopters. Four brand new helicopters will arrive in Croatia in 2022 and they will be used for both military and civilian purposes," said the minister.

As for other current procurement projects, Krstičević mentioned a project to buy multipurpose combat aircraft, of which an interdepartmental commission is in charge, saying that he expected concrete offers in May and a final decision on the aircraft to be purchased by the end of the year.

The Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, General Mirko Šundov, said he was glad about the increase in the military budget and investments in the army's modernisation, as well as about the fact that Croatian soldiers were equipped by Croatian producers.

Dragovan expressed satisfaction that the ministry had published its procurement plan for the seventh consecutive year, stressing that that practice was setting a good example for other bodies of public authority.

"I don't see any reason why other bodies of public authority would not do the same and present their annual plans to the public. It would definitely raise awareness of the need for transparency and responsibility," he said.

The chair of the national council in charge of monitoring the strategy for the prevention of corruption, Željko Jovanović, commended the ministry's transparency, stressing that transparency was one of the main instruments in the fight against corruption.

More news about the Ministry of Defence can be found in the Politics section.