Croatia-Israel fighter jet deal botched over U.S. objection

Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic announced here on Thursday that Israel could not sell U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to his country as agreed, because Israel had failed to get approval from Washington.

Croatia accepted the Israeli offer in March last year for the purchase of used F-16 fighter jets in an effort to modernize its air force. The 3.1-billion-kuna (about 479 million U.S. dollars) sales package includes 12 upgraded F-16 C/D Barak fighter jets that are 25 to 30 years old.

“Israel has notified the Croatian Defense Ministry it, unfortunately, cannot get the U.S. approval for the delivery of the fighter jets. The Ministry will now propose the next steps to the government. There will be no financial damage for Croatia. Croatia does not bear any responsibility,” Krsticevic said after meeting with a delegation from Israeli Defense Ministry, news portal N1 reported.

It was reported in December 2018 that Washington had insisted that Israel should uninstall all the upgrades added by Israeli Air Force on the jets before selling them to a third country.

“Croatia could not have changed the outcome and bears no responsibility. Israel was unable to secure the permission for the third-party transfer,” Director-General of Israeli Defense Ministry Udi Adam said on Thursday.

In an interview with national broadcaster HTV last week, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic predicted the failure of the deal. He said that it was only recently that Croatia was informed about Washington’s objection to the delivery of the jets.

Because of the unsuccessful overhaul of outdated fighter jets and much delayed purchase of new jets, Croatian Air Force is currently left with three fully functional MiG-21s, Xinhua reports.

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