Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic said on Saturday that Croatia will not pay any additional costs for the purchase of 12 fighter jets from Israel after the U.S. insisted that Israel must comply with the technical criteria Washington set in order to greenlight Israel's delivery of those F-16 fighter jets to Croatia.
The planes, which are the subject matter of the procurement deal and which were produced by the U.S. Lockheed Martin, were subsequently upgraded with sophisticated electronic systems by Israel and Washington now insists those to be taken out.
Israeli media have reported that US Secretary of Defence James Mattis is not allowing Israel to sell 12 F-16 fighter jets to Croatia.
The US administration must give its consent to the country to which it has sold its planes if that country wants to sell them to a third country.
Asked by the press on Saturday whether Israel or Croatia would cover the costs of those planned technical changes, Minister Krsticevic said that there were no additional costs for his country.
"The tender is clear. The tender has been transparent and in line with laws. We know what we have asked for. The bids were public. The price is known. As far as Croatian is concerned, there are no additional costs," Krsticevic said after attending a gathering of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) youth association's meeting.
Asked whether he would resign if this deal failed, the minister said that he would not answer hypothetical questions.
He went on to say that Croatia was given documentation showing that the U.S. Administration allowed Israel to offer its F-16 planes to Croatia.
"We have a document to that effect. In its bid, Israel undertook to deliver to Croatia NATO compatible aircraft and committed to ensuring that the extension of the planes' service life complies with the original manufacturer's criteria,” Krsticevic said.
“Delivery, too, is the responsibility of the State of Israel. Based on those documents and the tender, we made the decision on the purchase of the multipurpose fighter jets and the process was legal and transparent," he added.
In late March, the Croatian government unanimously adopted a decision to buy 12 F-16 C/D Barak jets that were about 30 years old. Croatia is supposed to pay HRK 2.9 billion for the planes over a period of ten years.