Croatia buys 12 used Rafale jets from France for € 1 billion

Croatia has agreed to buy a batch of used fighter jets from France, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said Friday, in a one-billion-euro ($ 1.2 billion) deal.

The twelve Rafale planes will replace Croatia’s Russian MiGs in the country’s largest arms purchase since the war of independence against Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The EU member chose France’s package over bids from Israel, Sweden and the United States and expects to get the first six planes by 2024.

Plenkovic told a cabinet session that the French bid to supply the planes for 999 million euros was the best deal.

“For the most favorable price, Croatia will receive the best-rated and best-equipped aircraft,” said the prime minister.

Critics had suggested that the government should focus its efforts on restoring the pandemic-hit economy rather than spending money on weapons.

But Defense Secretary Mario Banozic told local media earlier on Friday that the decision to buy the planes was not about giving “new toys” to the military.

“These planes are simply the foundation of our security,” he said.

Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the European Union four years later.

Croatia spends just under $ 1 billion on defense every year, according to NATO figures, just not what the alliance recommends spending 2 percent of GDP.

But Plenkovic said buying a plane would push Croatia’s spending beyond the two percent threshold.

(AFP)

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