The agreement was signed by the two countries’ defence ministers, Mario Banožić and Florence Parly, in the presence of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived on Wednesday for the first official bilateral visit of a French president to Croatia.
Croatia is buying from France 12 Dassault Rafale F3R used multipurpose fighter jets – ten single-seats and two two-seaters – for €999 million to be paid in five installments from 2022 to 2026.
“Those agreements open a new dimension and page in strengthening the defence capabilities of the Croatian Army, the Croatian Air Force. Strategic partnership,” Plenković said at a government session on Wednesday.
He had previously stressed that “the acquisition of Rafale fighter jets is strategically changing Croatia’s position in the military and defence context, in terms of strength towards international partners, security alliances and coalitions”.
On the occasion of signing the agreement, two Rafales flew over Zagreb, exactly the same kind that Croatia is procuring from France.
The first planes are expected to arrive in Croatia in late 2023 or early 2024.
In 2007, Rafale jets proved themselves in Afghanistan, then in Libya, the Sahel, and the Middle East, and in 2015, the first sales of those planes started in Egypt, Qatar, and India a year later.
Croatia is the second country in the European Union after Greece to buy Rafale, and the French bid was chosen in competition with the American (new F-16 Block 70), Swedish (new JAS 39 Gripen), and Israeli (used F-16 Barak) planes.
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