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Croatia fighter jet purchase: ‘All four offers equal for now’

ZAGREB, Oct 4 (Hina) – Defence Minister Mario Banozic said on Sunday that all four offers of fighter jets were equal for now, and that a lot of technical issues needed to be addressed before the financial aspect.

Groups of experts are studying the details of the offers which include not just multi-purpose fighter aircraft but also weapons systems, flight simulators and further training of pilots and technical personnel, Banozic said in response to questions form the press during a traditional military pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Marija Bistrica, northwest of Zagreb.

There are a lot of technical issues that need to be addressed before the financial aspect, after which comes external diplomacy, the defence minister said.

Banozic said in mid-September that December 12 was the deadline for the interdepartmental commission on the purchase of aircraft to recommend which offer should be chosen. He said that the commission would hold one-on-one talks with each bidder and that there were different elements that would be crucial for the final decision, such as the number of flight simulators, the weapons package, pilot training, the repayment plan and cooperation between the countries. He also said he expected the bidders to lower their asking price.

Croatia is buying 12 fighter jets and has received four offers. The United States is offering the new F-16 Block 70, Sweden is offering the new Gripen C/D model, while France and Israel are offering used aircraft – Rafale and F-16 Block 30 respectively.

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