Defence Minister Defends Fighter Aircraft Decision

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, March 28, 2018 – Commenting on Croatia’s decision to buy Israeli fighter aircraft, Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said on Wednesday that this project would guarantee the country’s security and sovereignty and would help maintain its capability of monitoring its own airspace.

The Council for Defence, at its meeting on Tuesday evening, accepted Israel’s offer of multipurpose fighter jets as the most favourable one and recommended to the government to decide accordingly.

“We made a big decision. It is a historic decision to maintain the capability of monitoring the airspace and maintain the tradition of the combat air force. I think it is a huge step forward for the Croatian army,” Krstičević said in an interview with Croatian radio. “This project guarantees Croatia’s security and sovereignty,” he stressed.

“It was a year-long process which we conducted very systematically. This decision was delayed for 15 years because of the lack of unity of vision for the development and capability of the Croatian army and because of budget cuts,” he added.

Experts at the Croatian Air Force have decided that Croatia needs 12 aircraft (10 single-seaters and 2 two-seaters) and a flight simulator, which Krstičević said was the security minimum. Requests were sent to the United States, Sweden, Israel, Greece and South Korea and their bids were presented before a Defence Ministry team of experts.

“I think we made a realistic, responsible decision and that this is a huge technological step forward for the Croatian army,” the defence minister said. “Clearly, this is an expense, but we will make a strategic partnership with the State of Israel and it will also be an investment opportunity,” he added.

Krstičević said that four factors were decisive for the selection: strategic partnership, aircraft capability, financial terms and investment.

“Financially, the value of the Israeli bid is 3 billion kuna, while the Swedish Gripen bid is 8.5 billion, which is equivalent to two Pelješac bridges. Can we afford it at this moment?” he said.

“I think the Barak is a top-notch aircraft. There are many of them in the world. What is important in this project is that we are getting a mentor; we are getting logistics from Israel. I think that is a huge benefit for the Croatian army,” the defence minister concluded.


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