Paris – Croatia has chosen to order 12 second-hand Rafale fighter jets as part of an agreement that underlines the importance of European sovereignty, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces said in a statement.
“The choice of Croatia is a choice of sovereignty, resolutely European”, declared the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly in the press release.
The deal for the Rafale F-3R fighter was worth around 1 billion euros ($ 1.2 billion) and included Mica NG air-to-air missiles, AASM-powered smart bombs, a cannon , the training of pilots and mechanics, and service, officials said the minister’s private office.
Croatia has selected the fighter plane, a French official said, and negotiations will take place in the coming months, with a contract due to be signed by the end of the year. This would be a government-to-government agreement, with no offset investment requirement.
The fighters will be from the French Air Force, which played a key role in the presentations, an official said. A Rafale order will be the largest French arms contract with Croatia, which joined NATO in 2009 and the European Union in 2013.
The choice of Croatia is the second European victory, after a Greek order in January amounting to 2.5 billion euros for 18 Rafale. The French fighter has long lagged behind his American rivals in the global export market.
Zagreb chose the Dassault Aviation Rafale F3-R in a competition that drew competing bids from the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 from the United States, the Saab Gripen C / D from Sweden and the F-16 Block 30 from Israel. , Air Force Technology website reported. Israel’s offer of 12 used F-16s was worth around $ 500 million.
Parly visited Croatia twice last year, in March and November, an official said.
France will deliver two batches of Rafale, the first to be shipped in the third quarter of 2023, and a second batch sent some 18 months later, an official said. That’s 18 months compared to the three years it took to build a new fighter.
There were no details on the funding and it was up to Croatian authorities to decide how best to fund the deal, an official said.
Saab said in its Gripen pitch that “profitability” was a key factor for Sweden and Croatia, which were small countries. The Gripen package included all the service support Croatia would need to maintain the hunter.
In other tenders, Switzerland are expected to select a fighter by the end of the first half, an official said, while Finland are expected to select a fighter by the end of the year. The first seeks to command 30-40 fighters, while the second seeks a fleet of 50-64 fighters.
In the Swiss tender, France pitted the Rafale against the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F / A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35A.
The Finnish competition attracted the same fighters, plus the Saab Gripen.
Indonesia is also looking to acquire a fighter, with Janes’ website reporting that a contract for 36 Rafale could be delayed due to “lack of clarity on sources of funding.”
France does not intend to replace the 12 fighters from the French Air Force before 2025, an official said, when a fleet of 117 Rafale will fly.
France sold 12 used Rafale and 6 new Rafale to Greece, and ordered 12 to replace the first ones for the Air Force.
The agreement with Croatia is seen as a strengthening of bilateral relations between Paris and Zagreb.
“This choice will considerably strengthen the strategic partnership between France and Croatia”, declared the Ministry of Defense. “This export agreement illustrates a strengthening of the strategic links between France and Croatia and their common desire to work for a strong and ambitious European defense.
Croatia’s decision “strengthens the Rafale’s position in European air forces, actively contributing to European defense sovereignty,” Dassault said in a statement.