WASHINGTON --- A major arms sale between two close American allies is probably dead after the State Department objected to the transfer of sensitive technologies from Israel to Croatia, US and European officials tell Breaking Defense.
Croatia, a NATO member, was preparing to buy 12 used F-16 Barak fighters from Israel for $500 million. The Israelis want to offload the F-16s to make room for the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will carry most of its combat load in the years to come. For Croatia, the deal would give it a modern warplane to replace its aging fleet of MiG-21s, a Soviet design that originally entered service in 1959.
The rejection comes as NATO allies are pumping tens of billions into defense programs, with a slew of NATO members — Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey (plus potentially Belgium) — and several non-NATO allies including Finland, Israel, Japan, and South Korea, joining the program.
Talks began between the two countries last year, and were joined by the US in June, as Washington must agree to any third-party sales of US-made equipment. Negotiations proceeded until December, when the State Department stepped in to block the sale over concerns that Israel was planning to hand over technologies it wasn’t authorized to transfer. The US has said Israel must strip the jets of the upgrades it has made over the years before transferring the aircraft. (end of excerpt)
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