ZAGREB, January 15, 2019 – Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said on Monday Croatia would procure new fighter jets and that the purchase of American F-16s was one of the likeliest options, adding that he expected the US to make its strategic partner the best offer “which the Croats certainly won’t be able to refuse.”
“Personally, I’d like the F-16 platform. I’d like them to be new planes, fewer ones and that, taking into account the funds we have, it is realistic for Croatia,” he told the press after a cabinet meeting at which a decision on the procurement of Israeli multipurpose F-16 Baraks was put out of force.
Krstičević said he would systematically examine every option. “I believe our partner, the US, will do everything to make Croatia the best offer. We are responsible for the security of Croatia, the security of the air space. We believe we will get aircraft which is good for Croatia and which citizens can afford.”
“This with the Americans, it’s one of the options we are closest to, but we expect the US to make its strategic partner, the Croats, the best offer which the Croats certainly won’t be able to refuse.”
He said Croatia was interested in the F-16 Block 70/72. “A smaller number, step by step, expecting the prices to be good for Croatia.”
He said no one must be eliminated, though. “The whole state leadership should consider everything and choose what’s most realistic for Croatia.”
Krstičević said he was talking to the defence ministers whose countries recently bought US aircraft but would not speculate how much the new jets could cost Croatia. “We must be responsible about our money, so that we get the best price-quality ratio.”
Asked if there had been hidden offers in the previous tender and if something had been offered under the table, Krstičević said he did not allow that. “Everything I and my associates did was extremely transparent, systematic, in the best faith and in the function of national interests.”
He said Croatia had embarked on the procurement of fighter jets ambitiously because the state of Croatia’s MiG aircraft “forced us to define the process as soon as possible.”
The minister said Croatia’s security was not in danger and that Croatia was a secure country. He reiterated that there was no damage to the national budget after the procurement of F-16s from Israel had fallen through, saying the expenses of going to meetings had served to strengthen cooperation with Israel. “They are very small for us.”
More news on Croatia’s fighter jet acquisition can be found in the Politics section.