Croatia has chosen 12 used Rafale fighter jets for its Air Force after inviting international bids as part of its multi role fighter aircraft (MRFA) programme.

The latest contract between the French and Croatian officials will include the purchase of the jets previously in service with the French Air Force.

The package will also include fleet support and training.

Valued at an estimated cost of $1.2bn (€999m), the deal will involve ten single-seater and two two-seater F3-sR Rafale twin-engine aircraft.

F3-R is an advanced version of Rafale F3 standard with improved versatility.

In November last year, Croatia’s Defence Ministry began evaluating offers from three bidders after it said it wanted to procure fighter jets to modernise its air force.

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The Croatian Defence Ministry evaluated the offers from the US for Lockheed Martin-developed F-16 jets, from France for Dassault Rafale fighters made by Dassault Aviation and from Sweden for Saab-made Gripen planes.

Commenting on the recent government’s decision to accept the French bid, Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said: “All bidders had the same treatment, all four offers were considered and the chosen offer is the best in terms of price. As regards the quality of aircraft, this is the best solution for Croatia in the long run.”

Plenković said Croatia will pay for the aircraft in instalments, from early next year to 2025.

Croatia will receive the first six Rafales in 2024, with the delivery of the other six due for the following year.

Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks.

It can be used to perform ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.

Plenković added: “France is a member of the EU, it is its sole nuclear power after the UK’s exit, it is a member of NATO and the only EU country that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

“It is a country with which we signed an agreement on strategic partnership in 2010 and I am confident that this decision will help enhance our partnership and bilateral relations.”

In a separate statement, Dassault Aviation stated that the company and its partners welcome Croatia’s decision to accept the French bid.

Croatia is the first-time user of a Dassault aircraft and the fifth Rafale jet export customer.