- Published: 27.03.2018.
Council for Defence accepts Israel's fighter aircraft bid
Croatia's Council for Defence, at its meeting on Tuesday evening, accepted Israel's offer of multipurpose fighter jets as the most favourable one and recommended to the government to decide accordingly, a government statement said.
The Council was convened by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, and the purchase of fighter aircraft was one of the topics discussed.
An expert team of the Ministry of Defence presented a feasibility study, based on which the Council accepted the Israeli bid as the most favourable one and recommended to the government to adopt a decision on the purchase of multipurpose fighter aircraft.
In mid-December 2017, the Croatian Parliament's Defence Committee unanimously gave a positive opinion on this project.
The Council for Defence also adopted the text of the draft Strategic Defence Review and recommended to the Ministry of Defence to initiate the procedure for the adoption of the Strategic Defence Review.
The Council comprises the President of the Republic in her capacity as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the Chairman of the parliamentary Defence Committee, and the Presidential Defence Adviser.
Addressing the press after the meeting, President Grabar-Kitarovic and Prime Minister Plenkovic said that the decision was made unanimously, taking into account national interests, financial possibilities and the overall situation in the country.
"I think we are making a responsible decision that will ensure the capability of the Croatian Air Force over the next 30 years and more," Plenkovic said after the Council discussed all four bids. He added that this was a long-term strategic decision that would strengthen the Croatian Armed Forces.
"This is a demanding decision which many previous governments and political groups have delayed until now. Last year the Council for Defence decided to embark on this process, which has been designed in accordance with professional rules and the Croatian law. We have set aside funds for this purpose in the budget and now we will go ahead with it," the prime minister said.
He said that because of the great interest of the public, the Ministry of Defence would make a presentation for the media to remove any criticism as to which bid was the most favourable.
Echoing the statement made earlier by the president, Plenkovic said that Croatia would have been in a position to choose a more expensive bid were its economy stronger.
If the government accepts the Council's recommendation, Croatia will buy 12 upgraded used Israeli F-16 Barak aircraft for about 420 million euros. The aircraft are between 25 and 30 years old and will replace the outdated MiG-21 aircraft used by the Croatian Air Force.
The key factor in choosing among the Swedish Gripen, US F-16 Block and Greek F-16 aircraft was the price given that Croatia does not have enough money to buy new aircraft or ones that need further upgrading.
The Israeli bid also includes two flight simulators, training of pilots and maintenance staff, and weapons for the aircraft. The plan is to use these aircraft for up to 30 years.