Croatia on Thursday signed a deal to purchase 12 French Rafale fighter jets price practically 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) that officers mentioned will significantly strengthen its air power amid lingering tensions within the Balkans.
The contract for the used fight plane was signed throughout the go to of French President Emmanuel Macron to Croatia. It was the primary go to by France’s head of state to Croatia because it cut up from the previous Yugoslav federation within the 1991-95 struggle.
“The acquisition of the planes strategically is what we see as a sport changer for Croatia,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic mentioned at a joint press convention with Macron after the signing ceremony.
“This is not going to solely give us the flexibility to avert those that have any aspirations towards our territory but in addition to change into the so-called exporters of safety … of stability in southeastern Europe,” he mentioned.
Macron mentioned the plane deal will strengthen bilateral ties between the 2 nations and contribute to European protection.
Two Rafales made a low go over the Croatian capital after the signing ceremony.
The choice of the French plane, introduced in Could, adopted a protracted bidding course of that was tormented by delays. Different gives had included new F-16s from the US, new JAS-39 Gripen planes from Sweden, and used F-16s from Israel.
Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, which makes the Rafale jets, mentioned they “will give the Croatian Air Pressure full satisfaction, whereas actively contributing to the train of Croatia’s nationwide sovereignty”.
Croatian officers mentioned earlier that the acquisition is price 999 million euros and can contain 10 single-seater and two 2-seater F3R Rafale twin-engine plane. The primary six Rafales are scheduled to be delivered in 2024, with the remaining due the next yr.
The French jets will change a number of nonetheless operational Soviet-era MiG-21s — first developed within the Nineteen Fifties. Many of the MiGs have been initially snatched from the Yugoslav army which tried to cease Croatia’s secession from the previous Serb-dominated federation.
Croatia, which is a member of NATO and the European Union, is in a mini arms race with neighboring Russian ally Serbia, which has just lately acquired six used MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia and 4 extra of the sort from Belarus.