Croatian Defense Council has approved the offer made by Israel to sell its F-16 to modernize the Croatian air force. The decision now has to be approved by the Croatian government and the manufacturer of the jets, the U.S.

The 12 planes should replace the aging Soviet-produced MIG-21 of the Croatian air force for a total cost of $420 million. Only four of the 12 MIG-21 were operational, according to local media. Israel was looking for a solution to get rid of the aging F-16 which were retired and at risk of degrading.

Some experts say that the delivered planes will be upgraded by Israel Aerospace Industries with their latest technologies. As the planes can be fitted with Israeli missiles such as the Rafael Python, it might be that Israel will also sell ammunition to Croatia, a member of NATO since 2009.

Croatia's Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic declared on national radio: “It’s a historical decision [...] a project which will ensure Croatia’s safety and sovereignty”. The first F-16 should arrive in Croatia before 2020 and all of them will be delivered by 2022.

Other countries were in the competition started by Croatia last year, among them Greece, South Korea, Sweden and the U.S., Reuters reports.

Other countries in the region have also sought to replace its aging MiG aircraft.

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Slovakia will postpone the previously planned purchase of Western-made fighters in connection with the need to modernize the weapons of other types of troops.