ZAGREB, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Croatia's Defense Council on Tuesday accepted an Israeli offer for the purchase of upgraded used F-16 combat aircraft that will replace its aging MiG-21 fighter jets.
The Croatian government announced the decision in a statement on Tuesday night, after a lengthy meeting with a team of experts of the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces General Staff.
Last year, Croatia received four bids for the new fighter jets: American F-16 Bloc 70/72 from Lockheed Martin, Greek F-16 Block 30, Israeli second-hand F-16 Barak and Swedish new models JAS 39 Gripen.
The value of the deal of 12 used F-16 C/D Barak is estimated at over three billion kuna (420 million U.S. dollars), paid in ten annual installments.
According to defense experts, it may well be that the F-16 fighter aircraft being offered by Israel have been upgraded with cutting-edge technological systems, with Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) being the upgrade contractor.
The Israeli F-16s can also be equipped with advanced Israeli weapon systems including the Python air-to-air missile produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
After the Council's recommendation, the Croatian government must make an official decision and sign a contract with the bidder. Under the plan, the first fighters are to be delivered to the Croatian Air Force by late 2020.