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Croatia gets French fighter jets in major arms purchase

By AFP

April 25, 2024 07:34 PM


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Croatia on Thursday received the first six of a dozen used Rafale fighter jets it has bought from France in its biggest arms purchase since its 1990s war of independence.

The warplanes touched down in the capital Zagreb, heralding a major overall of Croatia's air force which is replacing its fleet of ageing Soviet-era MiGs.

Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and other top officials held an arrival ceremony for the planes, flown over by Croatian pilots following months of training in France.

"Modernisation of the fighter fleet is the biggest investment... into the Croatian army and the security of our homeland," Defence Minister Ivan Anusic said Thursday in a message posted on X.

In 2021, Croatia agreed to buy the 12 jets in a deal worth one billion euros ($1.3 billion), its biggest arms purchase since it fought to separate from Yugoslavia three decades ago.

The EU member chose France's package over bids from Israel, Sweden and the United States.

Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the European Union four years later.

Last year, Zagreb spent slightly below NATO's recommended threshold of two percent of gross domestic product on defence, according to the alliance's figures.

Pressure has risen for NATO members to respect their spending targets following Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

In Croatia's neighbour Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic said this month that his country was also hoping to sign a deal to purchase Rafale jets from France soon.

 

 


AFP


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