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Bienvenue! Croatia welcomes first batch of Dassault Rafale fighter jets

The Croatian Air Force has achieved a significant milestone by receiving the first batch of six Rafale fighter jets from the French Air and Space Force.  

The jets successfully landed at the 91 operational base near Zagreb. A ceremony was held to celebrate the occasion, which was attended by high-ranking officials from Croatia, including President Zoran Milanović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and Defense Minister Ivan Anušić. 

Pilots from Croatia and trained in France were responsible for overseeing the operation. The Rafale aircraft were ferried from Dassault Aviation site in Mérignac, France. They will be assigned to the 191 Squadron of the Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo, the Croatian Air Force. The remaining six jets will arrive by the end of 2024, completing the squadron by mid-2025. 

“The mastery with which the Croatian Air Force carried out this first ferry testifies to the excellence of its pilots and personnel, and brilliantly illustrates the quality of Croatia’s cooperation with France,” declared Éric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. “Dassault Aviation is fully committed to completing the full integration and logistic support of the Rafale into the Croatian Air Force, which will contribute to ensuring Croatia’s sovereignty and enable it to successfully carry out its operational missions within NATO.” 

The Croatian government recently announced that it would replace its outdated Soviet-era MiG-21BisD/UMD jets with Dassault Rafale fighters in June 2021. The French fighters were selected after competing against Saab JAS-39 Gripen fighters, second-hand Israeli F-16 Block 30, and new Lockheed Martin F-16 Vipers. 

Croatia ordered a total of 12 second-hand Rafale F3R fighters, consisting of 10 single-seater Rafale C and two twin-seater Rafale B fighter jets, along with weapon systems, spare parts, logistics, a simulator, and training services. The contract, valued at just under €1 billion, was signed in November 2021. The first handover of the fighters took place on October 2, 2023, during a ceremony held at the Mont-de-Marsan Air Base 118 near Bordeaux, southwestern France. 

(Credit: Dassault Aviation)

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