By Dario Leone
Dec 2 2017
Share this article

Initially, F-16A/Bs were proposed but the new plan is to offer C/D models that are deemed surplus with the arrival of the F-35A

Flight Global has shed light on how Israel plans to compete in Croatia’s MiG-21 replacement competition using a mix fleet of surplus F-16C/Ds and already-retired F-16A/Bs which it has previously pitched to the Croatian government.

Initially, F-16A/Bs were proposed but the new plan is to offer C/D models that are deemed surplus with the arrival of the F-35I.

Israel’s defence ministry offer to supply Croatia with a mix of 12 second-hand Lockheed Martin F-16s is facing competition from Saab Gripens being promoted by Sweden.

Flight Fleets Analyzer records the Israeli air force as currently operating 78 single-seat F-16Cs and 48 D-model trainers. In 2014, a fleet-wide “Barak 2020” upgrade was completed, with the activity having included structural treatments, replacement head-up displays and the provision of a new digital debriefing system.

Modernisation work was performed at the squadron level, under the supervision of the air force’s main technical unit number 22, its central maintenance depot.

To support the potential export of surplus F-16A/Bs, Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries have previously designed an upgrade package for the retired “Netz” fleet.

Noteworthy Croatian Air Force and Air Defence (HRZ i PZO) fighter fleet is made up by twelve MiG-21s, of which eight are single-seat MiG-21bisDs and four MiG-21UMD twin-seat trainers. All the Fishbeds operate out of 91st Air Base at Zagreb-Pleso and they are flown by a single unit that is called the “Fighter Squadron.”

The aircraft are used to provide QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duties and they are able to cover all of Croatia’s airspace.

Israel to offer a mix of 12 second hand F-16A/B/C/Ds to Croatia

As told by Chris Lofting in the May 2016 issue of Air Forces Monthly magazine, all 12 MiG-21s have recently been overhauled and upgraded by the Ukrainian company Odesaviaremservis Aviation repair Plant (OARP) at Odessa. Five of the MiG-21bisDs were originally due to be delivered to Yemen which eventually never received them and the aircraft have been acquired by the Croatian Air Force after they had been stored outside the Odessa plant for several years. But on Mar. 22, 2016 the Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list revealed that an investigation was taking place into the newly acquired aircraft: in fact Lofting explained that “Croatian sources claim the Odessa Plant painted Algerian MiG-21 construction numbers on the airframes but left the original c/n plates in place, showing that at least four of them are ex-Bulgarian! It’s unclear what this means for their future.”

Photo credit: Chris Lofting and Tomislav Haraminčić via Wikimedia Commons

Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
Share this article

Share this article
Back to top