State Department notifies Congress of stalled Israeli F-16s sale to Croatia

State Department notifies Congress of stalled Israeli F-16s sale to Croatia

State Department notifies Congress of stalled Israeli F-16s sale to Croatia Izvor: MORH / T. Brandt

The US State Department had formally notified Congress on Tuesday of the arms transfer case involving Israel's sale of F-16 jets to Croatia, the US embassy in Zagreb confirmed to N1 television.

The Congress now has a 15-day period to formally approve the deal. However, in its statement the embassy added that "certain details are pending" and said that the State Department "would like to see cooperation from all parties involved to come to a successful resolution."

The comment comes after Israeli media had reported last week that the Trump administration is blocking Croatia's 3.1 billion kuna ($477 million) purchase of twelve Israeli F-16 fighter jets. Agreed in March, the delivery never materialised as the US refuses to approve the sale of planes equipped with Israeli electronics systems.

Wednesday's US embassy press release said that according to the rules of so-called Third Party Transfers (TPT) which regulates any re-sale of American-made arms, the military equipment originally purchased by an ally country must be returned to its original state before being transferred to a third country, and that Israel was obliged to communicate this in its negotiations with Croatia.

The twelve Israeli Air Force F-16 C/D aircraft are between 25 and 30 years old, equipped with modern israeli-made systems, and are intended to replace the outdated Soviet-made MiG-21 aircraft currently used by the Croatian Air Force.

The shorlisted bids had also included Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets, as well as another F-16 bid by the United States which offered a batch of upgraded and modernised version of the aircraft, but at a price over three times higher than the Israeli bid.

On Tuesday, Croatia's Defence Ministry said that only the delivery of the type of planes contracted with Israel would be acceptable to Croatia, and that the matter of getting US clearance  for the sale was purely the responsibility of Israel. Later on Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also commented on the issue, and said that unless the contracted aircraft are delivered, the procurement tender would be declared void.

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