Thursday, 3 February 2022

Two Black Hawk Helicopters Arrived in Croatia Today from the US

February 3, 2022 - Croatia continues to increase its military capacity, after acquiring the 12 Rafale jets from France in November and the 89 Bradley fighting vehicles from the United States in January, now awaits the arrival of two Black Hawk helicopters today.

Two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters arrive in Croatia today, reports HRT News. Both helicopters will be delivered to Zagreb's Franjo Tuđman airport via a US military plane for strategic transport. It is a donation from the United States, and Croatia will buy two more of such helicopters and set aside up to $100 million for them. 

The helicopters will be delivered in the standard configuration of the US Army with Croatian markings. This will improve the helicopter capabilities of the Croatian Air Force.

Two Croatian pilots were trained to fly Black Hawk helicopters in Minnesota, and helicopter maintenance technicians were also trained.

Defense Minister Banozić said last July during a visit to the Ripley military camp in the United States, where Croatian soldiers are regularly trained, that the 2019 US government donation was an important support to Croatia's national policy aimed at switching to equipment of Western origin.

The two Black Hawk helicopters can also be used to assist civilian institutions in extinguishing large-scale forest fires, search and rescue, and emergency air medical transportation.

Military cooperation between Croatia and the US state of Minnesota began 25 years ago as part of the "State Partnership" program. During this period, the Minnesota National Guard became one of the most loyal military partners of the Croatian Army.

Within Croatia's project to strengthen its military capacity with Western technology, the recent purchases of 12 Rafales military jets from France and 89 Bradley combat vehicles from the United States should be highlighted.

Croatia bought from France 12 Dassault Rafale F3R used multipurpose fighter jets - ten single-seats and two two-seaters - for €999 million to be paid in five installments from 2022 to 2026.

Croatia will obtain 62 Bradley fighting vehicles, 22 vehicles for spare parts, and five for training, and their upgrading will be performed at the Đuro Đaković company in Slavonski Brod. The total value of the deal is $196.4 million, the US donation will amount to $51.1 million, which means that Croatia will pay $145.3 million.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Sound Barrier Will Be Broken as Part of Regular Flight Activities, Says DM

November 10, 2021 - As part of the exercises carried out by Croatian fighter jets in the temporary test flight zone of Čazma from Wednesday to Friday, the Defense Ministry has announced that the sound barrier may be broken and asks citizens for their understanding and patience.

The Ministry of Defense reported that on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday it is possible to expect the sound wall to be breached as part of the regular flying activities of Croatian Air Force fighter jets, reports HRT News.

From 12 noon to 4 pm on Wednesday and on Thursday, 11 November and Friday, 12 November from 10 am to 4 pm, pilots of the 191st Squadron of 91st Wing fighter jets will conduct regular flying activities during which a sound barrier can be expected to break through.

The planned test flights are being held at subsonic speeds in the temporary test flight zone of Čazma, which is geographically remote from the northeast, in the range of 600 to 1000 meters above the ground.

Čazma is a town in Bjelovar-Bilogora County, Croatia. It is part of Moslavina. It is situated 60 kilometers east of Zagreb and only 30 kilometers from the center of the region: Bjelovar. The town of Čazma is one of the oldest towns in the Republic of Croatia.

After the test flights in the temporary test flight zone Čazma, the last phase of testing the aircraft will be carried out, during which the sound barrier is expected to be breached in the Zagreb, Bjelovar-Bilogora, and Koprivnica-Križevci counties at an altitude of 1,000 to 10,000 meters and in the area Požega-Slavonia, Osijek-Baranja, Virovitica-Podravina,

Bjelovar-Bilogora and Koprivnica-Križevci counties at an altitude of over 10,000 meters, in compliance with all safety measures.

During the implementation of the planned flights and due to the breach of the sound wall, short-term amplified noise is expected, and we ask the citizens for patience and understanding, the Ministry of Defense reported.

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

Milanović: Military Aircraft Procurement is a Major Project

ZAGREB, 20 May 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that the procedure for the purchase of fighter jets was very strict, but he would not reveal details of today's Defence Council meeting or the type of aircraft Croatia would go for.

"The process has been good so far. It hasn't been compromised, there have been no information leaks. Eventually, the cost will have to be presented to the Croatian public," Milanović told the press.

He said it was important that Croatia had the fighter jets by no later than 2024. "They have to be here by then," Milanović said, adding that Croatia should not be without its own resources even for a day. 

Milanović said that this was a major project and that he hoped the government would take a decision on it before Armed Forces Day, which is observed on 28 May.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Air Force: Defects Identified in 10 Overhauled Helicopters

ZAGREB, February 14, 2020 - Croatia's Air Force Commander Michael Križanec on Thursday said that defects identified on four Mi-171Sh transport helicopters had been removed and that a fifth helicopter out of the ten 171Sh overhauled helicopters, which is now located on the island of Krk, would be repaired on Friday.

Addressing an extraordinary news conference, the general admitted that experts had identified defects on all the ten helicopters that had been overhauled in Russia.

"The defects on four helicopters have been removed and they are usable. The fifth will be repaired tomorrow. Another five helicopters are undergoing regular overhauls," said Križanec.

The rest of the fleet of transport helicopters are ready for all missions and training. So far, we have conducted 1,100 flight hours and we did not have any indication of any hazard existing. Helicopters have been grounded before. Those checks are conducted every 300 flight hours and we only have 200 hours so far. If they had not warned us, we would have identified the defects ourselves," Križanec told the press conference in the Defence Ministry.

He added that the "Russian Helicopters" company had last night already admitted that it was their responsibility and that all the works and all the material would be charged to the company. Križanec ordered that the 10 helicopters be grounded and told the press conference that that situation was not that alarming.

Last week, the defence ministry said that the overhaul of the helicopters concerned was performed in a professional manner by the Aeronautical Technical Centre (ZTC) in Velika Gorica and by the "Russian Helicopters" company from Russia.

The news portal reported that 10 Mi-17Sh helicopters had been grounded due to frequent defects however Križanec explained that the helicopters were not actually grounded but were undergoing regular technical checks and are out of use.

"Yesterday we were informed of a technical defect that went unnoticed during the overhaul. We contacted the Russian manufacturer and then made some conclusions and took the necessary steps," Križanec explained.

More news about the military can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Air Force Investigators in Contact with US Army

ZAGREB, January 29, 2020 - Croatian Air Force Commander General Michael Križanec said on Tuesday that the Air Force had contacted the US Army and the Bell company and was given instructions on how to preserve evidence from the Kiowa Warrior helicopter that crashed into the sea off Šibenik during a training exercise on Monday, killing two pilots on board.

Speaking at a news conference at the Zemunik air base, Križanec said that the instructions were about how to preserve certain evidence, how to handle it and where to send it.

He added that it was up to the investigating team and the chief Air Force investigator to decide when and where certain physical evidence would be sent to obtain good analyses and information.

The investigating team has found the flight recorder, which was at the bottom of the sea for more than 24 hours.

The head of the team investigating the accident and chief Air Force investigator, Colonel Mario Počinok, said that the team would use all resources of the homeland security system in its work.

"The US side has offered help and we are not ruling out that we will accept it," he said.

"The helicopter was flying very low, at a height of between zero and 100 metres. The accompanying helicopter was between 150 and 200 metres behind the helicopter that crashed. It will not be easy, but we think that we will manage to reconstruct the event," Počinok said, adding that there were no video recordings of the flight in the two helicopters.

The head of the Operations Command Centre, General Krešo Tuškan, said that three larger parts of the helicopter wreckage were retrieved yesterday and that the remaining fragments were expected to be retrieved on Wednesday.

More military news can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Croatia Gets 5 Unofficial Offers for New Fighter Jets and 8 for Used Ones

ZAGREB, September 26, 2019 - The Croatian interdepartmental commission for the procurement of multi-purpose combat aircraft said on Wednesday that it had received five letters of expression of interest to provide the country with new fighter jets and eight letters of expression of interest for second-hand jets.

In early August, the interdepartmental commission, set up by the government on 4 July, sent requests to 26 potential bidders concerning the procurement of multi-purpose combat aircraft, the government's press office recalls.

Since then the commission has considered the proposals made by those bidders who expressed interest in this project.

During the selection procedure, the commission is going to check the validity of all potential bids and to see if they comply with the tactical and technical requirements made by the Croatian Air Force.

Media outlet speculate that the expressions of interest have been submitted by Italy, France, Sweden, the USA, Norway, Denmark and Israel.

Israel is offering again its used Barak jets, and France is set to offer its used Mirage 2000 planes or brand new Rafal planes.

According to media reports, Italy has recommended its used Eurofighter jets.

New F-35 and F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft are being offered by the USA, while Sweden has recommended recent versions of Gripen C and D. Norway and Denmark are offering their used F-16 jets.

On 2 September, Robert Kopal, a special adviser and analyst of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, said that the government's aim would be to conclude contracts on the purchase of 12 fourth-generation jet fighters, and that both brand new and used aircraft would be considered as options.

"It is our aim to have the contracts signed until the end of next year," Kopal said then adding that analyses have shown that Croatian needs now 12 combat planes.

Kopal said that one of many parameters included in decision-making would be the date of delivery of the jets which Croatia needed.

In early January, the purchase of the Israeli F-16 Barak fighter jets fell through after Israel admitted that it could not obtain the approval from Washington for the delivery of those aircraft to Croatia.

More news about fighter jet acquisition can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Overhauled Air Force Helicopters Presented

ZAGREB, September 23, 2019 - Ten overhauled Croatian Air Force Mi-171Sh helicopters were presented at a barracks near Zagreb on Monday, the Defence Ministry said in a press release.

A 207 million kuna overhaul contract was signed in 2017 with the Aviation Technical Centre, whose foreign partner was the Russian Helicopters company, which provided technical support.

The helicopters are used for humanitarian aid to civilian institutions in search and rescue operations, emergency medical flights, the transport of organs for transplantation and putting out fires. Since August, two aircraft have been participating in NATO's peace-keeping operation in Kosovo.

Russian Ambassador Anvar Azimov thanked Croatia for the cooperation and said Russia was open for work and assistance in future projects.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said he was pleased the overhauled helicopters were already being used and that this proved it had been a quality overhaul.

By September 1, the helicopters performed 1,714 medical flights, transferred 760 patients and took part in 13 search and rescue operations.

Military Chief of Staff General Mirko Šundov said the state was doing its best to modernise and equip the military in complex economic conditions.

More news about the Croatian Army can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Two Croatian Military Planes Intercept Israeli Aircraft Over Croatia

An unusual visitor in Croatian airspace caused a stir yesterday after Croatian air traffic control failed in their attempts to establish communication with the aircraft, which turned out to be an Israeli private jet.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of July, 2019, a private Israeli business jet entered Croatian airspace from the direction of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the intent to cross over to Italy.

''A combat duo of the Croatian Air Force were engaged in the protection and surveillance of the airspace of the Republic of Croatia and successfully intercepted the aircraft,'' they said in a statement.

Based on the commands of the relevant NATO command centre, located in Torrejon, Spain, on Friday, July the 19th, 2019, the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) was engaged in the protection and surveillance of the airspace of the Republic of Croatia.

Despite attempts having been made, Croatian air traffic control unfortunately failed to establish communication and confirm the identity of the aircraft, after which, CAOC TJ, as the supreme commander, engaged military aicraft belonging to the Croatian Airforce for identity verification of what turned out to be an Israeli aircraft.

The aircraft was intercepted over international waters before the border with the Republic of Italy, after which the airforce pilots managed to obtain a positive identification of and then followed the foreign airplane safely out of the airspace of the Republic of Croatia.

Under the approved procedure, the members of the Croatian Airforce who were engaged in the mission landed in Pula, Istria, where they refuelled and prepared for their return to Zagreb.

The whole procedure was carried out in accordance with the procedures for landing at an alternative airport and is the usual procedure in such situations, as was stated by the relevant body.

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Thursday, 4 July 2019

Government Establishes Commission for Procurement of Combat Aircraft

ZAGREB, July 4, 2019 - The Croatian government on Thursday established an interdepartmental commission for the procurement of multi-purpose combat aircraft in line with the conclusion of the Council for Defence and the Parliament's Committee on Defence that Croatia needs to maintain the ability to protect its airspace with its own combat aircraft.

"This is a strategic project of great value and it must be transparent and legal. I'm therefore glad that both the Council and the Committee have unanimously supported the government's decision to launch the procurement process," Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said.

He noted that the procurement process would take into account the necessary capabilities and financial means available.

The commission will be in charge of preparing and conducting the process of procurement of multi-purpose fighter jets and propose decisions to be made by the government and other institutions.

It will also be in charge of defining possible options for the training of pilots to fly the multi-purpose fighter jets as well as propose the relevant decisions.

The commission is co-chaired by the head of the office of the prime minister, Zvonimir Frka-Petešić, and the director of the Armed Forces Main Staff, Vice Admiral Robert Hranj.

More news about the procurement of the combat aircraft can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Parliamentary Defence Committee (Again) Endorses Procurement of Combat Aircraft

ZAGREB, July 3, 2019 - The parliamentary Defence Committee on Wednesday endorsed the opinion of Defence Minister Damir Krstičević on initiating the process of purchasing multi-purpose fighter jets for the Croatian Air Force.

Addressing the Committee, Krstičević said that Croatia was embarking on the acquisition of 12 multi-purpose combat aircraft. "If we can't get all 12 aircraft at once, we can initially acquire a smaller number of aircraft and then gradually come to the desired number," he said, adding that the procurement process should be launched taking into account the necessary capabilities and financial means available.

Admitting that Croatia has a small number of operational combat aircraft and increasingly limited resources for pilot training, the defence minister said that "the situation in the Croatian Air Force requires smart and careful, yet urgent action" regarding the acquisition of combat aircraft.

"Serbia has found a way to modernise its combat aircraft fleet and I believe Croatia will be able to do the same. ... We must no allow Croatia to be unarmed and without multi-purpose combat aircraft as guarantors of peace," Krstičević said.

He emphasised the importance of forming an interdepartmental commission on the procurement of aircraft which would be responsible for the preparation and conduct of the entire process. He said that the commission should include the chair and deputy chair of the parliamentary Defence Committee" given that this is a very important and financially highly valuable project that must be transparent and in accordance with the law."

"The issue of defence and procurement of multi-purpose combat aircraft is above political parties and requires the support of both the ruling coalition and the opposition. That's why I think it is important that the Croatian Parliament joins this process," Krstičević said.

"The process of acquiring multi-purpose combat aircraft is a very complex project which can be carried out only with the unity and support of all state institutions. Only serious offers will be taken into account, and the purchase must be a long-term strategic decision," he concluded.

More news on the procurement of combat aircraft can be found in the Politics section.

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