Friday, 28 May 2021

Croatia's Rafale Decision Reflects Strengthening of Zagreb-Paris Strategic Relations

ZAGREB, 28 May 2021 - Croatia's decision to buy 12 used French fighter jets reflects the strengthening of the strategic relations between Croatia and France, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Friday after the Croatian government stated that it had opted for Rafale F3R fighter jets.

The French minister noted that after in January Greece bought 18 Rafale jets, the fact that another EU member state selected the offer made by a European country "is is strong sign, more than a symbolic gesture."

"The French offer turned out to be the best because Croatia is getting the best-assessed and equipped aircraft for the least money," Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Zagreb on Friday, adding that the offer was the most favourable one with the best payment in instalments that would not slow down Croatia's accession to the euro area.

Besides the Rafale, bids were submitted by the US, the latest F-16 Block 70, Sweden, the new JAS 39 Gripen C/D, and Israel, the used F-16 Barak.

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Monday, 14 September 2020

Aircraft Purchase Commission to Recommend Best Bid by Dec. 12

ZAGREB, Sept 14, 2020  - The interdepartmental aircraft purchase commission will recommend the best bid by December 12, Defense Minister Mario Banozic said on Sunday evening.

"Given that the bids were submitted to the Defence Ministry on September 9 and we have three months, it is easy to calculate that (the deadline) is December 12. In these three months the interdepartmental commission will evaluate all the bids," Banozic said in an interview with the public television service HTV when asked when a decision would be made on which fighter jets Croatia would buy.

"December 12 is the deadline that we have set," the minister said.

He noted that the best bid may not be final, adding that the commission would talk to each bidder. There are various elements that will be decisive, such as the number of flight simulators, the weapons package, pilot training, the payment plan, and cooperation between the states, and the bidders are also expected to reduce the amount of the initial offer, he said.

Banozic said that Croatia should avoid a situation in which other countries would guard its skies. "Croatia should definitely avoid that because it will not be for free. If we leave it to Hungary or Italy, which are mentioned as one of the solutions, we will pay for it, but that money will go to another country."

Milanovic's statement was unfair

Banozic said that it was unfair of President Zoran Milanovic to say that American aircraft should be the first choice because no one from the President's Office is a member of the interdepartmental commission.

"The decision not to be on the commission reduces their responsibility and allows them to speak in public as they now do. And even this, in my opinion, is a form of lobbying and cheering for one of the bids, which in my opinion is unfair," the defense minister said.

"The commission is the place to present one's views. One should be very responsible and not present incorrect solutions to the media. One should not try to curry favor with countries involved in the tender, but should clearly stand behind the offer and support a comprehensive, unanimous solution that will be a credit to the Croatian army and the citizens of Croatia," he added.

Banozic confirmed that there had already been pressure from certain lobbies, saying that a few days before the submission of bids there was news of "a fake offer that will be the best of all," adding that this strategy of misinformation through the media and social networks was well known.

"I think it will intensify as the decision date draws near. But I am sure that if we as members of the commission take a clear and honest approach as we did in putting together the tender, the result will be good for all - for the Croatian army and the citizens of Croatia," the minister said.

Speaking of the impact of the corona crisis on the defense budget, Banozic said that the budget had been cut by HRK 500 million from last year's HRK 5.1 billion to make savings, adding that the number of staff would be reduced by about 20 percent or 200-250 people. He said that the downsizing would be carried out through job reclassification and retirement of staff in consultation with the trade union. 

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Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Banozic: Offers For The Fighter Jets Being Received Today

ZAGREB, Sept 9, 2020 - The Defence Ministry is receiving offers for the fighter jets from 9 am to 11.30 am today, which will be followed by a three-month evaluation period before a final proposal is addressed to the government, Defence Minister Mario Banozic told the press outside the government offices on Wednesday.

Asked whether the public would be informed of the details of the offers, he replied in the negative, adding that the offers would go through a three-month process of evaluation based on which a proposal would be made for the government.

A final decision on the best offer will be ready for the government by the end of the year, Banozic said.

He said that initial offers for the fighter jets had been requested from the United States for new F-16 aircraft and from Sweden for Gripen aircraft. Offers were also requested for used European-made aircraft, including Italy's Eurofighter and France's Rafale, as well as for used F-16s from Norway, Greece, and Israel.

Banozic said it was difficult for him to say how much the aircraft would cost because that depended on the offers. He confirmed that Croatia was buying 12 aircraft.

Asked to comment on the decision by the President's Office not to take part in the work of the interdepartmental commission on the purchase of the aircraft, the minister said: "The president and I have regular briefings, I had one yesterday, we work together. He himself said that this decision rests with the government, but I think that this is important for all of us, for our security, and it must be a single decision."

The President's Office has said that it will not have a representative on the commission, but the president will take part in a political decision on the purchase of military aircraft in accordance with his constitutional powers.

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) said in a statement that representatives of FMV and the Swedish Embassy in Croatia had submitted an offer this morning, which includes new Gripen C/D aircraft and a package of logistical support and training for Croatian Air Force pilots and technicians.

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