First six Rafale fighter jets for Croatian Air Force

Filmed on Apr. 25, 2024, the video in this post features the first six Rafale operated by the Croatian Air Force being welcomed at the Zagreb operational base by the President of the Republic of Croatia Zoran Milanović, the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Minister of Defense Ivan Anušić.

Following the acquisition of 12 Rafale from the French Air and Space Force in November 2021, the first six Rafale of the Croatian Air Force – Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo i protuzračna obrana (HRZ i PZO) – operated by its pilots trained in France, arrived yesterday at the 91 operational base, near Zagreb.

Coming from the Dassault Aviation site in Mérignac, these six Rafale will join the 191 Squadron of the Croatian Air Force. The next Rafale will arrive from the end of 2024, to form a complete 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. 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”, declared Éric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, in a company news release.

Croatian Air Force receives first six Rafale fighter jets

The Rafale acquisition will enable the Croatian Air Force to replace its outdated Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21 fighters. This transition will ensure Croatia’s continued air defense capabilities and enhance its ability to fulfill its operational missions as a member of NATO.

“This is a historic moment for Croatia, we realized our dream,” Plenkovic said.

Serbia could purchase 12 French-made omirole jets too

Serbian populist President Aleksandar Vucic last month also announced plans to purchase 12 new Rafale fighters in a deal that was reportedly worth 3 billion euro, in what appeared to be a mini arms race in the Balkans. As reported by Associated Press, the potential deal was not confirmed by French officials.

The Serbian Air Force and Air Defence currently fields Soviet-era MiG-29 fighters as well as aging Yugoslav combat aircraft. The Rafale acquisition would allow the country to modernize its air arm.

Croatian Air Force receives first six Rafale fighter jets

Russia has been a traditional supplier of military aircraft, including combat helicopters, to Serbia, which has refused to join international sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The rapid arming by the Serbian military during the past few years has been worrying some of its neighbors.

The Rafale

According to Dassault, the Rafale, with its “Omnirole” capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by an increasing number of governments.

It fully complies with the requirement to carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft.

The Rafale participates in permanent “Quick Reaction Alert” (QRA) / air-defense / air sovereignty missions, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, pilot training sorties and nuclear deterrence duties.

Photo credit: Croatian Ministry of Defence