Rafale Fighter Jet: Croatian PM Calls The Acquisition Of Dassault Warplanes As ‘Game Changer’ For The Country

Rafale Fighter Jet – French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic have praised a newly inked strategic partnership as well as Zagreb’s purchase of 12 French-built Dassault Rafale fighters for nearly one billion euros.

The strategic partnership agreement is expected to broaden bilateral cooperation in a plethora of new sectors and serve as a foundation for further enhancing bilateral ties.

The state-to-state deal primarily comprises the transfer of 12 Rafale jets and their equipment from the French Air Force, as well as training for the Croatian Air Force. Over the course of three years, the logistics support contract will include all support resources, as well as additional spare parts for these aircraft.

The deal for the used combat aircraft was signed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Croatia. It was also the first visit by France’s president to Croatia since the country broke away from the former Yugoslav federation during the 1991-1995 war.

The French aircraft were chosen after a lengthy bidding procedure marred by delays, which was disclosed in May. The other proposals include new F-16s from the United States, new JAS-39 Gripen planes from Sweden, and used F-16s from Israel. 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, following the signing ceremony at a joint press conference with Macron, said they consider the acquisition of the Rafales as a game-changer for Croatia.

He continued, “This will not only provide us the power to deflect anyone who has any ambitions toward our land, but it will also allow us to become so-called security exporters of southeastern Europe’s stability.”

Croatian officials previously stated that the 999 million euro deal will include ten single-seater and two two-seaters F3R Rafale twin-engine planes. The first six Rafales will be delivered in 2024, with the remaining arriving the following year.

Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier stated that the company will provide complete satisfaction to the Croatian Air Force while making a significant contribution to the exercise of Croatia’s national sovereignty. 

Croatia and France finalize Rafale acquisition - Press kits
Croatia and France finalize Rafale acquisition – Press kits

The aircraft contract, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, will improve bilateral ties and contribute to European defense.  Following the signing ceremony, two Rafales made a low pass above the Croatian capital. 

The French jets will replace a handful of remaining Soviet-era MiG-21s, which were built in the 1950s and are still in service. The majority of the MiGs were taken from the Yugoslav military, which was attempting to prevent Croatia’s separation from the previous Serb-dominated federation.

French Rafale 

The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter that can operate from both, an aircraft carrier or a ground base. All combat aviation missions can be carried out by the Rafale, including air superiority and air defense, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes, and nuclear deterrent. 

In 2004, the French Navy acquired the Rafale, and in 2006, the French Air Force received it. The jet has proven its worth in combat in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq, and Syria, with over 30,000 flight hours under its belt.

The Air Force variant of the Rafale can carry payloads of more than 9t on 14 hardpoints, whereas the navy version has 13 hardpoints. Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM, and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick, and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles; and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles are among the weapons in its arsenal.

The newer F3R Standard includes a number of enhancements, including RBE2 AESA radar system, the METEOR long-range air-to-air missile, the TALIOS designation pod, and an update to the SPECTRA electronic warfare suite.

Team Rafale, a joint venture of Dassault Aviation, Thales, and Safran, completed the modification of the Rafale fighter jets delivered to previous standards.  Qatar, Greece, Egypt, France and India are currently operating this aircraft for their respective Air forces.