Croatia OKs Deal to Buy Israel Fighters

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Croatia's government has approved the purchase of 12 used Israeli F-16 fighter aircraft in a package worth $500 million.

The deal affirmed Thursday is Croatia's largest single military purchase since it split from the Yugoslav federation in the 1991-95 war.

Croatia's Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic says "this is a historic day for the Croatian air force and an investment into the security of the Republic of Croatia."

The deal to buy the upgraded F-16 Barak fighter jets includes the training of pilots in Israel, aircraft armament, a training simulator and the construction and equipping of facilities at Croatia's military airports.

The sum will be paid in 10 annual installments.

NATO member Croatia faces a mini arms race with Russian ally Serbia, which recently received six used Russian MiG-29 fighter jets.

(KA)