Croatia has announced that it has chosen the French Rafale to modernize its armed forces. This order of nearly one billion euros “illustrates the strengthening of strategic links between France and Croatia”, for Minister Florence Parly.
Twelve used Rafale fighter jets competed with new American F-16s, Israeli used F-16s and new Swedish Gripens to acquire the Croatian market. Croatia finally announced on May 28 that it had chosen the French option.
This is the largest arms order since the War of Independence of the Former Yugoslav Republic of the 1990s.
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. The Zagreb decision “illustrates the strengthening of strategic links between France and Croatia”, welcomed the French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly. “The fact that a European country chooses the offer of another European country is a strong sign that goes beyond the symbol”, also estimated Florence Parly in a press release, welcoming a “choice of sovereignty, resolutely European” .
Croatian 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 obtains the best rated and best equipped aircraft,” he told the Council of Ministers.
A contract which also includes the training of pilots and the armament of the aircraft
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.
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.
Croatian Defense Minister Mario Banozic retorted that the fact of wanting to keep modern aviation was not “a fad” or a desire to have “new toys”.
“These planes are simply the basis of our security,” he told the media, in comments reported by AFP.