March 29, 2018 / 7:45 AM / 2 years ago

Croatia to buy F-16 fighter jets from Israel

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli F-16 fighter jet takes off from Ramon air base in southern Israel during routine training, October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia has accepted Israel’s offer to supply a dozen F-16 fighter jets for its air force, the government confirmed on Thursday.

The deal to buy 12 jets that have been in use by the Israeli air force had been recommended by Croatia’s national defense council earlier in the week.

“We will be able to use the planes for at least 25 years. The cost will be at most $50 million a year over the next 10 years ,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a cabinet session.

Israel had been in competition with several countries that Croatia had asked last year to bid for contracts to supply fighter jets..

Sweden’s SAAB was reported by local media as the most serious competitor, offering new Gripen planes, but at a much higher price.

Croatia joined the NATO alliance in 2009 and the EuropeanUnion in 2013. Its air force currently operates a squadron of outdated MIG-21 fighter jets.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by David Goodman

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