The Croatian government is likely to buy 12 used French Rafale fighter jets and a decision could be announced on May 28, on the occasion of the country’s Armed Forces Day.
The used planes are to be drawn from French Air Force inventory and are 10 year old, Croatian publication Jutarnji List reported basing its information on well-informed sources.
Croatia would pay just under a billion euros for the package which includes planes, training and weapons. After the official decision of the Government to accept the French offer, negotiations on the contract could follow.
In November 2020, the Croatian Defense Ministry had received bids for 12 multipurpose fighter jets from Sweden, U.S. and France. The US offered new F-16 model block 70 jets. An earlier deal with Israel to buy used F-16s worth $500 million had to be scuttled following opposition from Washington.
At a session yesterday of the country’s Defense Council (which decides on procurement matters), support was given to the government for the purchase of a fighter jet, the publication reported.
A later report quoting President Zoran Milanovic said that the government had not been given a recommendation on which type of aircraft to buy, but he hoped "that he and the prime minister understood each other well" (on the fighter jet purchase). Asked if he knew which plane the country is buying, he replied "No comment."
If the contract were to be signed this year, France would deliver the first six planes in 2024, and the remaining six a year later. President Milanović, had earlier said that planes must be in Croatia by 2024 at the latest.
Prior to announcing the government's decision, the Defense Committee of the Croatian Parliament will meet next Wednesday, and its members will be presented with the decision on the procurement of a fighter jet, the publication reported.
It is not clear how many used Rafales the French Air Force can spare considering that it has signed a contract with Greece on January 25 this year for 12 second-hand aircraft, which will be taken out of the French Air Force inventory, besides six new ones .