15:02 / 14.05.2021.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Banožić expects a decision on the purchase of fighter jets by the end of the month

Defense Minister Mario Banožić (Photo: Nikola Cutuk/PIXSELL)

Defense Minister Mario Banožić (Photo: Nikola Cutuk/PIXSELL)

Foto: - / Pixsell

Croatia is looking to purchase 12 multi-purpose fighter jets to replace is dilapidated fleet of Soviet made MiG 21s. Four bids were submitted in the public tender, the United States is offering new F-16 block 70's, Sweden's bid is for new Gripen C/D model aircraft, France is offering used models of the Rafal aircraft, while Israel's bid is for used F-16 block 30's.

While attending the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Second Guards Brigade in Petrinja on Friday, Defense Minister Mario Banožić was asked to comment on the process of acquiring fighter jets for the Croatian Air Force. The minister said that any decision of this scale was not one to be taken lightly or made overnight. He noted that both the recent earthquakes and the coronavirus situation had slowed the entire process down, but that in spite of these unforeseeable circumstances, he expected a decision to be made by the end of the month.

Croatian Air Force MiG 21 fighter jets (Photo: Marko Dimic/PIXSELL)

Croatian Air Force MiG 21 fighter jets (Photo: Marko Dimic/PIXSELL)

Foto: - / Pixsell

Of Croatia’s eight MiG 21 fighter jets, four have been removed from service as they are no longer deemed to be airworthy. Since the late 1990’s the Croatian Air Force has considered the Soviet jets to be outdated and effectively obsolete. However, with the Serbian and JNA aggression over and now clear and present danger facing the country, budgetary constraints forced officials to continually put off a decision on the acquisition of new fighter craft. A decision to buy new fighter jets was finally made in 2017, and following a public tender, the expert group for picking a bid selected the Israeli offer of 12 used F-16 C/D Barak Block 30 aircraft. The cost of the 30 year old aircraft stood at 2.9 billion Kuna (roughly €420 million). Along with the 12 jets, Croatia would have received two flight simulators, training for its pilots and maintenance staff in Israel, aircraft weapons, a package of spare parts and equipment for ground support, infrastructure construction and adaptation, and three years of support, including the presence of Israeli instructors in Croatia. The deal ultimately fell through, after the US, which had gifted the aircraft to Israel, blocked the sale.

Source: HRT

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