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Israel offers surplus F-16A/Bs to Croatia

June 23, 2015 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Israel is currently offering its old F-16A/B trainers to Croatia, hoping they will be interested to acquire them as a replacement for aging MiG-21 fleet.

IDFAF F-16A block 10 #296 from 115 sqn is taxiing out of its HAS for another training sortie. [IDFAF photo]

The Croatian government is looking to replace its Soviet-designed fighter jets with Western-made aircraft as part of the country's ongoing efforts to modernize its Air Force's fleet and eliminate weapons and military equipment used by Russia and its allies. Currently, the Croatian Air Force has a total of 12 MiG-21bisD/UMD aircraft in its fleet.

The Israeli Air Force has a surplus since it is phasing out its old trainers to accommodate for the F-35A Lightning II's. The latter ones are expected to arrive in early 2017.

If selected, Israel Aerospace Industries will upgrade the Vipers to the ACE configuration which will include Elta Systems EL/M-2032 fire control radar with synthetic aperture radar mapping modes, Elbit helmet-mounted display system and color cockpit displays.

The aircraft can also be equipped with a variety of new weapons and sensors. If a buyer is found for the ex-Israeli air force fighters, they could receive advanced weapons, including Rafael’s Python 5 air-to-air missile, sources suggest.

Earlier this year, Croatia confirmed plans to replace its MiG-21 fleet and is currently considering a few possible options. The two leading contenders for the deal are second-hand F-16s from the US and upgraded JAS-39 Gripen C/Ds from Sweden. Alternatives considered included France's Mirage 2000, the Israeli Kfir and the FA-50 from South Korea's KAI.

Croatia is expected to select a new fighter by the end of this year and sign a deal with the manufacturer in 2016.

Additional images:

IDFAF F-16A block 10 #282 of the "Protections of the South Squadron" is parked in a shelter. [IDFAF photo]

IDFAF F-16A block 5 #001 is the first Israeli F-16B. This picture was taken at Hill AFB in late 1979. [Jim and Jeff Shawhan collection]

Three ship formation of IDFAF F-16A block 10's #702, #777 and #714 from the "Phoenix Squadron". [Photo by Antony Hershko]