ZAGREB --- - The interdepartmental aircraft purchase commission will recommend the best bid by December 12, Defence Minister Mario Banozic said on Sunday evening.
"Given that the bids were submitted to the Defence Ministry on September 9 and we have three months, it is easy to calculate that (the deadline) is December 12. In these three months the interdepartmental commission will evaluate all the bids," Banozic said in an interview with the public television service HTV when asked when a decision would be made on which fighter jets Croatia would buy.
"December 12 is the deadline that we have set," the minister said.
He noted that the best bid may not be final, adding that the commission would talk to each bidder. There are various elements that will be decisive, such as the number of flight simulators, the weapons package, pilot training, the payment plan, and cooperation between the states, and the bidders are also expected to reduce the amount of the initial offer, he said. Banozic said that Croatia should avoid a situation in which other countries would guard its skies. "Croatia should definitely avoid that because it will not be for free. If we leave it to Hungary or Italy, which are mentioned as one of the solutions, we will pay for it, but that money will go to another country." (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sept. 9, the day competitors submitted their offers, Defence Minister Mario Banozic said that initial offers for the fighter jets had been requested from the United States for new F-16 aircraft and from Sweden for new Gripen aircraft.
Offers were also requested for used European-made aircraft, including Italy's Eurofighter and France's Rafale, as well as for used F-16s from Norway, Greece, and Israel.
Banozic said it was difficult for him to say how much the aircraft would cost because that depended on the offers, but he confirmed that Croatia was buying 12 aircraft.)