During French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Croatia last week, Defence Minister Mario Banožić and his French counterpart Florence Parly signed a deal under which the Croatian Air Force will acquire 12 second-hand Rafale F3-R fighter jets.
It is noteworthy that, to replace the aircraft sold, France’s military will order 12 new Rafale fighters in 2023, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2027, said Hervé Grandjean, a spokesman for the French Ministry of Defence, as quoted by local news agency AFP.
“I am proud that the Rafale aircraft are coming to Croatia soon, one of the best multi-purpose fighter planes of today. By purchasing these aircraft, Croatia will gain a powerful strategic deterrent for the next 30 to 40 years,” Banožić was quoted in a statement released by the Croatian ministry. “It is an investment in our future and the security of our country, but also a tool that will strengthen Croatia’s position as an ally within NATO and a partner within the European Union.”
Last May, after Zagreb’s decision to select the Rafale, the Croatian ministry announced the deal was to be worth some €999 million (US$1.1 billion). In addition to the aircraft, the contract covers weapon systems, spare parts, logistics and training.
France is to deliver the first six twin-engine fighters to Croatia in 2024, and the remaining six aircraft will be supplied the following year. The acquisition will enable the Croatian Air Force to replace its outdated Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21 fighters.