Military Aviation

U.S. has blocked Israeli’s F-16 sale to Croatia

Israeli senior officials will travel to Central Europe this week to inform the Croatian Ministry of Defense

Ynetnews reports that the sale of surplus Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16s to Croatia has failed to get clearance from the US.

Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam and Michel Ben-Baruch, the head of SIBAT, the International Defense Cooperation Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, are scheduled to visit Croatia this week and inform the Croatian Ministry of Defense that the deal is cancelled.

As we have previously explained Washington was upset that Israel added advanced Israeli-made electronic systems to the F-16s, giving Jerusalem an edge over American planes and therefore unfairly profiting from the deal.

The US embassy in Croatia on the other hand last December issued a statement that the nation strongly supports Croatia in its desire to modernize its air force and to be interoperable with allies in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

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The country is shopping for a new fighter aircraft to replace its MiG-21 fleetThe F-16 was offered for sale to Croatia by Greece and U.S. as well. Sweden proposed to sell new JAS-39s.

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.

According to a US diplomat, the debate centered on who would have paid “for the conversion, because the US and its contractors Lockheed Martin have to do the work because they’re the ones who own the technology and intellectual property… I’m not involved in the negotiations, and I don’t think they [Israel and Croatia] have a choice, because this is intellectual property of Lockheed Martin, and they need to get [Lockheed Martin’s] approval to do the transfer.”

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Photo credit: Master Sgt. Lee Osberry / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

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.

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