Croatia approves $500 million deal to buy old jets from Israel

Croatia has accepted Israel's offer to supply a dozen F-16 fighter jets for its air force | Tomás Del Coro

Croatia has accepted Israel's offer to supply a dozen F-16 fighter jets for its air force, the government confirmed on Thursday.

Croatia asked five countries last year to bid for contracts to supply it with fighter jets: Sweden, Israel, the United States, Greece and South Korea. The Israeli regime’s offer, which according to the media reports is worth some $500 million, includes a squadron of 12 already used F-16s.

"The defense council has accepted that Israel made the best offer and accordingly gave a recommendation to the government," the defense council, comprising top state and defense officials, said in a statement.

"We will be able to use the planes for at least 25 years," Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a cabinet session.

For his part, Croatia's Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said "this is a historic day for the Croatian air force and an investment into the security of the Republic of Croatia."

The deal to buy the upgraded F-16 Barak fighter jets includes the training of pilots in Israel, aircraft armament, a training simulator and the construction and equipping of facilities at Croatia's military airports. The sum will be paid in 10 annual installments.

Among the countries who were competing on the bid was Sweden's SAAB. It was reported by local media as the most serious competitor, offering new Gripen planes, but at a much higher price.

According to sources, Israel gets to unload some of its older fighters and gets lucrative contracts to support them in the future. The $500M can then be spent on other priorities, including new airframes.

Full diplomatic relations among two countries were established on April 9, 1997 following Croatia's independence from SFR Yugoslavia.

Not only Croatia has relations with the Israeli apartheid regime. The leaders of Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Albania have all been on official visits to Israel. Kosovo’s leaders have been lobbying Israel to recognize it.

According to Eliezer Papo of Ben Gurion University, academic co-operation, which used to be “non-existent”, has exploded. The source reported Papo as saying that “many western Balkan leaders think Israel is a place to politically emulate.”