In a historic event at the Mont-de-Marsan Air Base, Croatia officially acquired its first Rafale multirole combat aircraft, marking a milestone in its capabilities. 

The acquisition of 12 Nato-compatible aircraft is expected to secure Croatia’s air combat requirement for the next three decades.

Preparations for the handover had been underway for some time since the Rafale was first selected in 2021. The ceremony was attended by several high-ranking Croatian officials, including Defence Minister Mario Banožić, and a delegation from the Croatian Armed Forces led by Chief of General Staff Admiral Robert Hranj.

The Rafale fighter is manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation, with the twin-engine multirole aircraft among the most capable fourth-generation air combat platform available, and is able to perform a number of roles such as air defence, ground attack, and more.

Dassault Aviation occupies 5.6% of the European military fixed-wing aircraft market, anticipating earnings of $15.1bn. Major programs undertaken by the company include Rafale aircraft for France, Greece, and Croatia, according to GlobalData’s “Military Fixed Wing Aircraft Market 2023-2033” report.

A variety of other countries worldwide have procured the Rafale fighter aircraft. These include EgyptGreeceIndiaIndonesiaQatar, and the United Arab Emirates

According to GlobalData’s ‘Defense Market 2022-2027” report, Croatia is acquiring 12 Rafale fighter jets to replace the ageing MiG-21 aircraft. The total contract cost is $960m, and forecast to be completed in 2025.

As the remaining Rafale aircraft are delivered, Croatia will continue strengthening its position as a key player in Nato amid a backdrop a Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.