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Bidders submit proposals for Croatia’s new fighter aircraft program

Gripen is one of the potential future Croatian Air Force fighters
Illustration. Photo: Saab

Companies from four countries submitted their offers for the Croatian fighter jet procurement program on September 9.

The bidders include Sweden with Saab and its Gripen aircraft, the US and Israel with used F-16 aircraft and France with used Rafale jets that were built by Dassault Aircraft.

The offers were submitted after Croatia issued a request for proposals to seven countries in January this year. According to defense department officials, Norway backed out as it could not meet set criteria, while Greece and Italy could not meet deadlines set by Croatia.

The proposals were submitted after the country issued a renewed RfP in January this year, as the first attempt to buy Israeli F-16 Baraks did not obtain US approval.

The country had been initially expected to select a new fighter aircraft that would replace its ageing MIG-21s by August this year. The deadline was postponed in April due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Croatia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that a decision was expected to be made by the end of the year.

According to a local report, the US has offered the sale of 10 F-16 aircraft, eight single-seat and two double-seat types. As reported, another 20 F-16 aircraft would be available to Croatia within one year of the delivery of the first batch of fighters. The value of the 30-aircraft offer ranges between estimated 140 million to 170 million.

The only new-aircraft offer was submitted by Saab by representatives of the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) and the Swedish embassy in Croatia. The offer includes 12 new Gripen C/D fighter aircraft in addition to a strategic cooperation package as a boost to the Croatian defense industry.

“Sweden and Saab are offering a comprehensive and long-term solution for Croatian homeland security that will protect Croatia’s people and borders for decades to come. If Croatia chooses Gripen, Saab is ready to transfer know-how and technology and establish a Regional Aeronautical & Support Service Centre in Croatia, says Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and head of Saab business area Aeronautics.”

Gripen C/D can perform air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance missions and is in operational service with the air forces of Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Thailand.