ZAGREB, December 9, 2018 – Defence Minister Damir Krstičević has said that Croatia will not pay any additional costs for the purchase of 12 F-16 fighter jets from Israel after the U.S. insistence that Israel must comply with the technical criteria Washington set in order to okay Croatia’s fighter jet purchase from Israel.
The planes, which are the subject matter of the procurement deal and which were produced by the U.S. Lockheed Martin, have subsequently got sophisticated electronic systems which Israel has added to them, and Washington now insists that they should be reversed to the previous form.
Israeli media have reported that US Secretary of Defence James Mattis is not allowing Israel to sell 12 F-16 fighter jets to Croatia. The US administration must give its consent to the country to which it has sold its planes if that country wants to sell them to a third country.
Asked by the press on Saturday whether Israel or Croatia would cover the costs of those planned technical changes, Minister Krstičević said that there were no additional costs for his country. “The tender is clear. The tender has been transparent and in line with laws. We know what we have asked for. The bids were opened publicly. The price is known. As far as Croatian is concerned, there are no additional costs,” Krstičević said after attending a gathering of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) youth association’s meeting.
Asked whether he would resign in the event that this deal failed, the minister said that he would not answer hypothetical questions.
He went on to say that Croatia was given the documentation showing that the U.S. Administration allowed Israel to offer its F-16 planes to Croatia.
On Friday, when the news broke out about the complications in the delivery of the fighter jets over the U.S. requirements set to Israel, Krstičević recalled that the U.S. government had given Israel permission to offer the Israeli F-16 jets to Croatia. “We have a document to that effect. In its bid, Israel undertook to deliver to Croatia aircraft that is compatible with NATO and obliged itself to ensure that the extension of the planes’ service life complies with the original manufacturer’s criteria. Delivery, too, is the responsibility of the State of Israel. Based on those documents and the tender, we made the decision on the purchase of the multipurpose fighter jets and the process was legal and transparent,” Krstičević said yesterday.
In late March, the Croatian government unanimously adopted a decision to buy 12 F-16 C/D Barak jets that were about 30 years old. Croatia is supposed to pay 2.9 billion kuna for the planes over a period of ten years.
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