Croatia intensifies MiG-21 replacement efforts

The Armed Forces of the Croatian Republic have intensified their efforts to replace ageing Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (NATO reporting name: Fishbed) fighter jets with new aerial platforms. To this end, Zagreb has sent request for proposals (RfPs) to seven countries, the press office the Croatian government announced on January 16.

Croatia intensifies MiG 21 replacement efforts Croatian MiG-21BisD after the 2014 refurbishment (Picture source: Gojanovic123456789)

According to the statement, the RfPs have been dispatched to Greece, Israel, Italy, Norway, the United States of America (USA), France, and Sweden. "The co-chairpersons of the interagency committee for the procurement of multirole combat aircraft have signed a letter, which envisages sending RfPs to seven states after the completion of preliminary analysis," said the Croatian government’s press office. According to the officials, an RfP for two brand new aircraft, namely, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon and Saab JAS 39 Gripen, have been sent to the USA and Sweden, respectively. Zagreb also considers the acquisition of previously used aerial systems, particularly, from France (Dassault Rafale), Italy (Eurofighter Typhoon), Greece (probably F-16), Israel (F-16), and Norway (probably F-16, too).

The Croatian government is planning to finish the selection process by this August. Being a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member since 2009, Croatia operates a number of MiG-21s, which were sent for maintenance, repair, and overhaul procedures to Ukraine; however, the Ukrainian side failed to extend the fighters’ service life.

In late March 2018, Croatia announced the acquisition of Israeli F-16 Barak multirole combat aircraft. However, in January 2019, the United States blocked the proposed deal.

According to the Military Balance 2019 book published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Croatian Air Force has fielded eight single-seat MiG-21bis (Fishbed-L) fighter jets and three twin-seat MiG-21UMD (Mongol-B) operational trainer

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