May 23, 2019 / 11:36 AM / 2 months ago

Croatia in talks with Sweden, U.S. on fighter jets -minister

    ZAGREB, May 23 (Reuters) - Croatia is in talks with Sweden
and the United States on buying fighter jets to modernise its
air force, Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic said on Thursday.
    Zagreb was close to striking a deal on buying a squadron of
used and refitted F-16 fighter jets from Israel, but eventually
Israel informed Croatia it could not sell the planes as it could
not secure an approval from the United States.             
    Israel had been in competition with several countries
bidding for Zagreb's business and its most serious competitor
was reported to have been Sweden's SAAB            offering new
Gripen planes.
    "The government is still determined to solve (this)
strategic issue. We are in talks with Sweden and the United
States and we will timely inform the public once we will have
some concrete information," Krsticevic told reporters.
    Croatia joined the NATO alliance in 2009 and the European
Union in 2013. Its air force has a squadron of Russian-made
MiG-21 jets dating from its past within old Yugoslavia, but they
are outdated and only a few are operational at the moment.

 (Reporting by Igor Ilic
Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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