Croatia has decided to buy French Rafale fighter aircraft over options proposed by the United States, Sweden, and Israel, local reports said on May 20.
According to the Croatian daily Jutarnji, the country appears to have made a decision to buy 12 used Rafale F3R fighters built by Dassault Aviation.
Should the deal be finalized, it would have an estimated value of around a billion euros and would include aircraft, training, and armaments.
Deliveries of the aircraft, the oldest of which is reportedly 10 years old, could start in 2024, should the contract be signed this year. Speaking to reporters following a defense ministry meeting, Croatian president Zoran Milanovic said he would expect all of the aircraft to be delivered by 2024.
Croatia selected the Rafale over Saab’s Gripen fighter, and used F-16 fighters from the US and Israel.
As we previously reported, the US had offered the sale of 10 F-16 aircraft, eight single-seat and two double-seat types. The offer also included another 20 F-16 aircraft that would be available to Croatia within one year of the delivery of the first batch of fighters.
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 included 12 new Gripen C/D fighter aircraft in addition to a strategic cooperation package as a boost to the Croatian defense industry.
Croatian officials plan to make an official announcement on the fighter aircraft procurement on May 28, the country’s armed forces day.