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Croatia announced on Friday that it would buy 12 second-hand Rafale fighter jets from France to modernize its air force, to the detriment of US, Israeli or Swedish offers. An order of nearly a billion euros.

Croatia has chosen the French Rafale to modernize its armed forces, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced on Friday (May 28th).

This is the largest arms order from the former Yugoslav Republic since the war for independence in the 1990s, amounting to nearly one billion euros.

The 12 used Rafale fighter jets built by Dassault Aviation competed with new American F-16s, Israeli used F-16s and new Swedish Gripens.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic explained that the French offer of 999 million euros was the best for a hunter considered “as one of the best in the world”. “For the best price, Croatia gets the best priced and best equipped aircraft,” he told the Council of Ministers.

According to Croatian media, the agreement covers airplanes, pilot training and aircraft armament. The fighters will replace Russian MiGs.

Croatia has decided to favor for this market another member country of the European Union into which the Balkan country entered in 2013, four years after joining NATO.

A decision which “illustrates the strengthening of strategic links between France and Croatia”, welcomed the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, on Friday.

After Greece, which acquired 18 Rafale in January, “the fact that a European country chooses the offer of another European country is a strong sign that goes beyond the symbol,” said the minister in a press release, welcoming the ‘a “choice of sovereignty, resolutely European”.

For Florence Parly, “this dynamic confirms the excellence of the French offer in cutting-edge technological fields”.

The flagship of French defense aeronautics, which entered service in 2004 in the national army, has long struggled to export itself, but has enjoyed success abroad in recent years, with orders placed by the Egypt, Qatar, India or Greece.

Croatia is the second NATO country after Greece to decide to acquire the French aircraft.

The contract is due to be signed this year and the first six devices are expected in Croatia in 2024, according to Croatian media.

The French ministry, meanwhile, explains that the proceeds from the sale of Rafale to Zagreb will be “used to improve the availability and strengthen the operational readiness of the Air and Space Army”.

The contract, according to the ministry, “will take the form of a government-to-government agreement which could be signed in a few months, allowing the delivery of the first Rafale from 2023”.

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