Croatia approves $500M deal to purchase F-16 fighter jets from Israel

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Croatia approves $500M deal to purchase F-16 fighter jets from Israel
Israel army upgrades F16 from scratch

Croatia's government has approved the purchase of 12 used Israeli F-16 fighter aircraft in a package worth $500 million.

The deal affirmed Thursday is Croatia's largest single military purchase since it split from the Yugoslav federation in the 1991-95 war.

"The aircraft will arrive completely adapted to NATO standards and the cost includes everything that aircraft will require to remain in service over the next 25 years," Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said after his cabinet unanimously voted in favor of the purchase.

Croatia's Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic says "this is a historic day for the Croatian air force and an investment into the security of the Republic of Croatia."

The deal to buy the upgraded F-16 Barak fighter jets includes the training of pilots in Israel, aircraft armament, a training simulator and the construction and equipping of facilities at Croatia's military airports.

The sum will be paid in 10 annual installments.

NATO member Croatia faces a mini arms race with Russian ally Serbia, which recently received six used Russian MiG-29 fighter jets.

A former Yugoslav republic, Croatia fought a four-year war against Belgrade's forces and Serb insurgents after it declared independence in 1991. It joined NATO in 2008 and the European Union in 2013.

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