Military Capabilities

Croatia negotiates F-16 deal with Israel as counterweight to Serbian MiG-29s

10 August 2018

Israeli F-16 and Croatian MiG-21 flying over Knin on 5 August. Source: Croatian MoD/T Brandt, Croatian Air Force

The Croatian Ministry of Defence (MoD) invited the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to visit Croatia on 2-5 August as it negotiated the purchase of F-16 combat aircraft from Israel.

The potential deal reflected Croatia’s growing sign of support and friendship with Israel, with the arrival of three F-16Ds from the IAF’s 109 Squadron.

It is not known whether the visiting aircraft will be included in the possible upcoming purchase, but the IAF’s visit to Croatia ended with two Israeli F-16Ds taking part in the fly-by during Croatian Victory Day in Knin, an event celebrating the 1995 operation ‘Storm’, which every year strains relations between Serbia and Croatia.

Croatia is under public pressure to field a new fighter following the first flights carried out by Serbia in late July of its MiG-29s donated by Russia in October 2017. As such, the IAF’s visit to Croatia can also be seen as a public relations exercise to counter Serbia in the fighter arena amid negotiations between Croatia and Israel following the 29 March decision to procure 12 used F-16s from Israel.

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