The Croatian Air Force took delivery of the first Dassault Rafale fighter passed on by France. The country had acquired 12 second-hand aircraft for 1.15 billion euros in 2021.
The Rafale will replace the aging Russian MiG-21 fighters that will be removed from service from 2024.
The first fighter was received at Mont-de-Marsan air base on Monday in the presence of Croatian government officials. France will supply 10 single-seat and two two-seat aircraft of the F3-R standard.
“The acquisition of the Rafale multirole fighter represents the biggest step forward in capability development since the nineties and the biggest investment in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia since Croatia’s independence, which will significantly contribute to national security and multiply many times the overall combat power of the Croatian army,” a government statement said.
The Croatian Air Force has 12 MiG-21 fighters, but only three to six aircraft would be capable of flying.
The Rafales are expected to be delivered by 2026 and Dassault will also provide a flight simulator and provide training for Croatian pilots.
MBDA France and Safran Electronic & Defense were also contracted by the Croatian government.
“All support is contracted until the last quarter of 2026, in addition to a 12-month warranty for aircraft, engines, equipment and spare parts delivered,” added the government.
Croatia had launched the process of acquiring a new multifunction fighter in July 2019. In addition to France, the United States (new F-16 C/D Block 70), Israel (used F-16 C/D Block 30) and Sweden (new Gripen C/D) have submitted proposals.