To modernize its armed forces, Croatia announced this Friday that it had chosen the French Rafale, an order worth around one billion euros.
The 12 used Rafale fighter jets competed with new American F-16s, Israeli used F-16s and new Swedish Gripens. This is the largest arms order since the War of Independence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of the 1990s.
The French plane considered “as one of the best in the world”
The contract is due to be signed this year and the first six Dassault Aviation aircraft are expected in Croatia in 2024, according to Croatian media. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic explained that the French offer of 999 million euros was the best for a hunter considered “as one of the best in the world”. “For the best price, Croatia gets the best priced and best equipped aircraft,” he told the Council of Ministers.
According to Croatian media, the agreement covers airplanes, pilot training and aircraft armament. The fighters will replace Russian MiGs. The flagship of French defense aeronautics has long struggled to be exported but has been successful abroad for a few years, with orders placed by Egypt, Qatar, India and Greece.
“These planes are quite simply the basis of our security”
Croatia has decided to favor for this market another member country of the European Union into which the Balkan country entered in 2013, four years after joining NATO. Some have wondered about the advisability of acquiring this type of expensive equipment at a time when the small country of 4.2 million inhabitants very dependent on tourism has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Defense Minister Mario Banozic replied that the fact of wanting to keep modern aviation was not “a fad” or a desire to have “new toys”. “These planes are quite simply the basis of our security,” he told the media.