Israel has failed to overcome US objections to its plan to sell 12 used fighter jets to Croatia and the $500 million deal will likely be canceled, Croatia's defense minister said Thursday.
Israel reached a tentative deal to sell the upgraded F-16 Barak fighters to Croatia in March pending US approval that would allow the American-made technology to be purchased by a third party. The deal ran into trouble after Washington said that Israel needs to strip off the upgrades that were added to the aircraft after Israel took delivery from the US some 30 years ago.
Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said after meeting with Israeli defense officials in Zagreb on Thursday that "despite accepted obligations," Israel failed to obtain the needed consent and his ministry "will propose to the government to make appropriate decisions."
He said Croatia will not suffer financial consequences because of the failed deal, which was to be its largest single military purchase since it split from the Yugoslav federation in a bloody war in the 1990s.
Senior Israeli official said the country doesn’t hold Croatia responsible for the cancellation as Israel couldn't manage to get the US approval.
“Unfortunately we were not able to close this deal due to unexpected circumstances beyond our control … Croatia showed professionalism every step of the way. Croatia couldn’t have influenced this outcome … The Defense Ministry is looking forward to develop the ties between the two countries even further and will make every effort to expand the areas of cooperation,” said the official.
Israel upgraded the jets with sophisticated electronics, which was crucial in Croatia's decision to buy the planes from Israel rather than from the US.