Croatia opts for Rafale fighter

Croatia has selected the Dassault Rafale as the winner of its Multi Role Fighter Aircraft programme, with the contract intended to deliver 12 aircraft previously in service with the French Air Force.

Announcing the decision on May 28 on social media, the government of Croatia stated that the Rafale would be equipped to the F3-R standard, which would provide the country “with the most advanced fighter aircraft” in the region.

Rafale F3R
When delivered the Rafale F3-R fighters will replace the Croatian Air Force’s ageing fleet of eight MiG-21’s still in service. Dassault Aviation

The decision marks the first time that Croatia has selected a Dassault aircraft for its military and represents the fifth export customer for France’s Rafale platform. Payable in instalments between 2022-2025, the contract is valued at €999m and has been concluded on a government-to-government basis.

Competition for the programme included new-build F-16 C/D Block 70 aircraft from the US, while Sweden put forward Saab’s Gripen C/D. Israel meanwhile offered used F-16 C/D Block 30 fighters in service with the Israeli Air Force.

In a statement Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said Rafale offer had been “the best in terms of price”, adding that the platform “is the best solution for Croatia in the long run.”

When delivered the Rafale F3-R fighters will replace the Croatian Air Force’s ageing fleet of eight MiG-21’s still in service. Croatia’s previous fighter programme was cancelled after Israel was forced to withdraw from the competition to provide 12 F-16 C/D Barak fighters after pressure from the US government.