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Croatia may cancel F-16 deal with Israel - PM Plenkovic

Croatia may cancel F-16 deal with Israel - PM Plenkovic Andrej Plenkovic; Source: Croatian Government

ZAGREB (Croatia), December 12 (SeeNews) - Croatia may cancel the deal for the purchase of 12 F-16 multi-purpose fighter jets from Israel, prime minister Andrej Plenkovic has said.

"There can be no modifications of what was agreed. We will buy the jets as they were offered or the tender will be cancelled," Plenkovic said in a press release on Tuesday. 

Last week, Israeli media reported the U.S. is blocking a $500 million (440.2 million euro) deal for the sale of 12 F-16 jets to Croatia after Israel added advanced electronic systems to sweeten its bid. Washington believes that Israel acted unfairly as the F-16s are U.S.-made and are not supposed to be sold to a third party without the U.S. consent, Israeli TV broadcaster Channel 10 quoted officials as saying.

Israel offered to deliver F-16 aircraft with NATO-compatible equipment to Croatia, with the prolongation of the aircraft service life to be made with the consent of the manufacturer, the Croatian defence ministry said in a statement last week.

"I repeat, the responsibility for receiving the consent for  the so-called 'third party transfer' from the U.S., namely from Lockheed Martin as a producer of the F-16 jets, is of Israel," Plenkovic said on Tuesday.

In March, NATO member Croatia agreed to acquire 12 F-16s from Israel to replace its ageing fleet of Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jets. Croatia would pay the price in 10 equal annual instalments, Plenkovic said back then.

The Israeli offer was selected in an international tender which also attracted bids from Greece, Sweden and the U.S.

($ = 0.880399 euro)

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