New chapter in Croatia's new fighter saga, choice postponed again

Zagreb has postponed the selection of new combat aircraft for Croatian Air Force at a later date.

Croatia new fighter jet selection
Croatian Air Force MiG-21Bis fighter jets.

A new chapter in Croatia's new fighter aircraft saga was written in early February when Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced a new postponement.

On February 4, 2021, local media asked Plenković for details on the new fighter jet as, according to the latest government plans, it should have been selected in January 2021.

"We'll wait a while, the plans go back to before the earthquake," he replied.

On 29 December 2020, an earthquake in central Croatia killed seven people and destroyed and damaged thousands of buildings causing severe financial damage.

Following the speech by the Prime Minister, President Zoran Milanovic told reporters that he understood the government's decision, but recalled that the offers of the participants expire at the end of 2021. According to Milanovic the postponement of the choice is linked to the economic crisis of the country as it suffered a 10% decline in 2020.

In November last year, Croatia received the latest and best offers to purchase new multi-role fighters. They include new F-16 Block 70 from the United States [highly recommended by Tramp], new Gripen C/D from Sweden, used Rafale from France and used F-16 Barak from Israel. On December 12, 2020, the nation announced that it had completed its bid evaluation.

The choice of the new fighter by the government and parliament should have been announced in January 2021, after evaluating the offers. The Croatian procedure continues without public sharing of the budget and the desired number of fighters. It is unofficially known that Zagreb is looking for 12 systems to replace the same number of MiG-21s currently in use even though one of the offers it has received appears to be for eight aircraft.

In April 2020, the Croatian government announced a further slowdown in the process following the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties affecting the national economy. Participating countries were supposed to submit their initial offers in May, but this deadline was postponed to November.

This is Croatia's second attempt to choose its new fighter jet. In March 2018, the country had selected Israel's offer for used F-16C/D Barak. The choice was linked to the low price of the offer (only 420 million euros) and the promise of extensive cooperation with Israel in the defense field. However, the deal quickly stalled as the United States denied re-exporting the fighters. In January 2019 the choice was canceled and the process was restarted.

The Croatian MiG-21 ends its operational life at the end of 2023.

👉 You may also like: Canada's Top Aces welcomes first ex-Israeli F-16 fighters

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Marko Kovačićek/Croatian Air Force

No comments

All comments related to the contents of our articles are welcome. It is not allowed to post promotional messages, links to external sites, or references to activities not related to this blog.

Powered by Blogger.