Croatia Postpone Fighter Jet Procurement Procedure Due To COVID-19 Crisis

Croatia Postpone Fighter Jet Procurement Procedure Due To COVID-19 Crisis
Croatia aims to replace its outdated, Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21s. (S. Brigljević/Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia)

Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at the government’s meeting on Thursday that in the circumstances of the struggle to curb the coronavirus epidemic, his cabinet decided to put off the procurement of fighter jets for the time being.

At the moment, this is the only logical and right decision,” Plenkovic said in a statement after a regular weekly cabinet meeting.

“We will notify in writing all countries participating in the process of submission of offers about the respective change of dates,” Plenkovic said.

In January, the Croatian government sent requests for proposals for the delivery of new fighter jets to the US (F-16), and Sweden (JAS Gripen), and requests for the procurement of used fighter jets to France (Rafale), Italy (Eurofighter) and Norway, Greece and Israel (F-16) – expecting initial replies in May and hoping to complete the selection process by the beginning of August.

In September, the Croatian defence ministry said that the country received 13 proposals for the delivery of fighter jets after sending letters to 26 potentially interested parties.

Also in September, Robert Kopal, a special advisor to prime minister Plenkovic, said that the government aims to buy 12 fourth-generation fighter jets by the end of 2020.

In January 2019, Croatia cancelled the agreed purchase of 12 multi-purpose US-made F-16 Barak jets from Israel, after the $500 million (460 million euro) deal was blocked by the United States.

In March 2018, Croatia reached an agreement with Israel for the acquisition of upgraded F-16 fighter jets used by Israel’s air force, to replace its aging fleet of Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jets.

The deal with Israel needed Washington’s approval for the sale of a US-made product to a third party. In December 2018, Israeli TV broadcaster Channel 10 reported that the Trump administration had blocked the deal because it was angry that Israel had added advanced electronic systems to the F-16s in order to sweeten its offer in the Croatian tender.

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