After two big Rafale fighter deals, Dassault Aviation might get another order this year, this time from the Croatian Air Force (Croatian: Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo or HRZ).
According to reports, Croatia is likely to purchase 12 second-hand Rafale jets from the French government and finally replace its aging MiG-21 fighter jets.
According to a Croatian publication Jutarnji List, the country is planning to purchase 12 used Rafale F3Rs from the French Air Force inventory. The oldest of these airframes could be as much as 10 years old, for a deal just under one billion euros for the entire package.
The report says that the decision could be made by the government by May 28, Croatia’s Armed Forces Day. The Croatian defense council received support from the government for the purchase of the fighter jets on May 20.
While the government had not been given recommendations on what type to buy, President Zoran Milanovic stressed that he and the prime minister ‘knew each other well’ and remained tight-lipped on being asked which fighter the country would go for. The proper price negotiations for the aircraft would follow after the Croatian government’s final decision.
Croatia would start receiving the first Rafales in 2024 if the deal is signed this year. The delivery of all the 12 aircraft would be completed by 2025.
Rafales have proved to be a golden goose for Paris, as the aircraft has seen major success in international sales, especially after its deal with India. Egypt was its first international customer when its air force placed an order for 24 Rafales in 2014, followed by Qatar and then India.
The deal with New Delhi had sparked a huge controversy following allegations of irregularities. Later, India’s Supreme Court dismissed all allegations, paving the way for the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighters from France.
Rafale is a twin-engine omnirole combat aircraft. The 4.5 generation fighter jet with a delta wing and canard design can perform multiple roles including air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions armed with advanced weaponry including air-launched cruise missiles.
In 2020, Dassault made its first delivery of Rafale fighter jets to India during a crucial time when the country’s armed forces were engaged in a standoff with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army at their Himalayan borders in Ladakh.
Dassault achieved a major success in January 2021 when Greece ordered 18 Rafale F3-Rs, for a total cost of 2.4 billion euros. This deal included 12 second-hand aircraft taken straight out of the French inventory and six new ones.
The second deal in 2021 was with Egypt, which signed a contract with the French government on May 4 for the purchase of 30 Rafales. While Egypt didn’t reveal the cost, investigative website Disclose said the deal was worth €3.75 billion ($4.52 billion). This would take the Rafale inventory in Egyptian service to 54.
Another main reason for the Rafale being a lucrative offer for countries is the cost benefits provided by the French government. The Egyptian procurement will be financed through a loan to be repaid over at least 10 years.
In August 2020, it was reported that 8 of the total 18 Rafales for Greece would be given as a ‘donation’. However, The EurAsian Times could not independently verify these claims.