Military Aviation

US could block Israeli’s F-16 sale to Croatia

Washington is upset that Israel added advanced Israeli-made electronic systems to the F-16s, giving Jerusalem an edge over American planes

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has reportedly refused to approve the sale of 12 F-16 combat aircraft to Croatia. The US government must approve the sale of its planes sold to any country.

Actually Washington is 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, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 10, which quoted unnamed Israeli officials.

The US embassy in Croatia on the other hand has 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).

“For more than a year we have been working with Israel on the details of the proposed F-16 aircraft purchase. During these talks we were consistent and clear regarding technical conditions under which we can approve the sale,” Voice of Croatia quoted the embassy as saying Friday, adding that they are currently working actively with Israel and Croatia in order to find an acceptable solution that is suitable to Croatia’s needs within the given deadline.

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The country is shopping for a new fighter aircraft to replace its MiG-21 fleet. The 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 centers on “who will pay 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,” the ambassador told reporters, as quoted by Total Croatia.


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Photo credit: Israeli Air Force Facebook Page

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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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