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Croatia urges Israel to say by Jan 11 if it can deliver F-16 jets

Croatia urges Israel to say by Jan 11 if it can deliver F-16 jets Author: Lockheed Martin; License: All rights reserved.

ZAGREB (Croatia), January 4 (SeeNews) - Croatia's defence ministry has requested Israel to state officially by January 11 whether it will be able to deliver the US-made F-16 fighter jets which Croatia selected at an international tender, the ministry said.

It is Israel's obligation to obtain the US government approval for delivering the fighter aircraft to Croatia, the defence ministry said in a statement on Thursday. 

If misunderstandings between Israel and the US prevent Croatia from acquiring the jets it has chosen, the Croatian government will annul its March 29, 2018 decision to purchase the multi-purpose combat aircraft.

In early December, Israeli media reported that the US is blocking the $500 million (438.3 million euro) deal for the sale of 12 F-16 jets to Croatia. Washington believes that Israel acted unfairly as the F-16s are US-made and are not supposed to be sold to a third party without the US consent, Israeli TV broadcaster Channel 10 quoted officials as saying. According to those officials, the Trump administration was angry that Israel had added advanced electronic systems to the F-16s in order to sweeten its offer for the sale of the jets to Croatia. The Israeli offer was selected at an international tender which also attracted bids from Greece, Sweden and the United States.

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, prime minister Andrej Plenkovic said back then.

($=0.876430 euro)