Israel is bidding to sell the Croatian air force upgraded second-hand F-16 combat aircraft. US and Greek bids have been discarded, a local TV station reports.
The odds of Israel being able to sell second-hand F-16 fighter aircraft to the Croatian air force have been boosted. The Croatian Ministry of Defense has halved the number of bids from four to two after rejecting US and Greek bids, leaving just Israel and Sweden to compete for the tender, according to local TV station RTL Televijia, "Defense News" reports.
Last month, Croatia's Ministry of Defense announced that four bids had been shortlisted - new F-16s from Lockheed Martin in the US, second-hand F-16s from Israel and Greece, and Saab's Gripen aircraft from Sweden.
Croatia is readying to replace its aging MiG 21 Soviet built fighter jets, the backbone of the Croatian air force, with newer aircraft. According to a Croatian government official, the US bid at $120 million per aircraft is too expensive, and it is unclear why the Greek bid has been discarded. It may well be that the F-16 fighter aircraft being offered by Israel have been upgraded with leading edge technological systems. These include Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), ELTA's Barak radar system and Elbit Systems Ltd.'s color cockpit display systems and pilots' helmets with an ongoing data feed. IAI is the upgrade contractor.
The Israeli F-16s can also be equipped with advanced Israeli weapons systems including the Python air-to-air missile produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
Estimates of the value of the deal range between $596 million and $1.3 billion, according to "Defense News." The final decision on the bid winner will be made before the end of the year.