The purchase of fighter jets for the Croatian Air Force will be decided by the next government, the Jutarnji List daily of Saturday reports, noting that there is no information on the financial framework of the project and that the commission in charge of procuring the jets had still not discussed where pilots would be trained.
On 10 January 2019 the Director-General of the Israeli Defence Ministry, Udi Adam, confirmed officially in Zagreb that Israel could not sell Croatia its F-16 Barak jets as it could not obtain Washington's approval for the deal.
A year later, by all accounts, Croatia is further away from buying a new generation of combat aircraft than it was a year ago, says the daily.
"I don't have the information as to why the selected countries have still not been sent requests for final offers," said the chair of the parliamentary defence committee, Igor Dragovan, who is also a member of the government's interdepartmental commission in charge of procuring the planes.
Andjelko Stricak, another member of the commission, expressed hope that at its next meeting the commission would discuss when to send the request.
Even though the government's spokesman still claims that the decision on which planes will be bought will be known by the middle of the year, a few days ago Dragovan said that the incumbent government would not be the one to decide on the new planes as there was no time for that, says Jutarnji List.
If the commission were to send its request for final offers today, the bidders would need five to six months to compile their offers, which would be followed by an analysis of the bids, to last several months. And that is the time of the campaign for parliamentary elections when the Andrej Plenkovic government will be a caretaker government which should not make any crucial decisions such as the purchase of military aircraft.
That means that the process of decision-making and contracting is shifted to the next government and the year 2021, which puts the Air Force in a difficult position, says the daily.
The Air Force has only eight fighter jets, of which four-five are operational. Also, the lifespan of its MiG jets starts to expire in 2023, when their landing will start. That was why the end of 2023 had been announced as the final deadline for the arrival of new planes, which now seems impossible.
It is also very questionable which of the bidders is capable of delivering at least some of the total of 12 planes to be bought, in a period of less than two years, says the daily.