Defence Minister Banožić on the handover of the first Rafale to Croatia: “The day we acquire the first Rafale will go down in history”

Tomorrow will be a historic day as the first Rafale will be legally taken over, according to Banožić, marking the mandate of the Government headed by Andrej Plenković

On Sunday, 1 October, 2023, Mr. Banožić commented on the information that the official handover of the first Rafale multirole combat aircraft, or the transfer of ownership between the French Republic and the Republic of Croatia, will take place at the French Air Force base on 2 October, 2023.

“The final stage of the project’s implementation is now underway. The legal takeover of the first Rafale, which will eventually be here in Croatia along with the other five at the beginning of the second quarter of 2024, will take place tomorrow and mark the mandate of the Government led by Andrej Plenković. Starting tomorrow, we will formally own our first Rafale. I’m incredibly proud the Croatian pilots who are gaining knowledge and expertise while flying the Rafales in France.”

Mr. Banožić pointed out that the entire project is moving forward according to schedule. The necessary infrastructure is being developed, and pilot and air force technician training in collaboration with French partners is taking place concurrently.

In conclusion, Minister emphasized the positive atmosphere: “According to the information I keep getting from the Croatian Air Force as well as from Croatian citizens, everyone is very enthusiastic. We have preserved the hard-earned combat capability formed during the Homeland War. Not only have we preserved it, but we have also developed it further. These are 4.5+ generation Rafales that put us as a trusted NATO partner and an EU member in a position that we have had so far in other services. This new position will bring us new tasks, but also certain new values which we will further strive to develop with our allies and partners through donations and the continued modernization and equipping of all three services.”

Commander of the Croatian Air Force, Brigadier General Michael Križanec, emphasized that everything will be in place for the arrival of the Rafale jets next year: “Everything will be ready as the development of the entire package of capabilities is going as planned. There are no delays and we haven’t exceeded the budget.”

Infrastructure-related segments will be ready, as the Minister said, by the beginning of the second quarter of next year, to receive the jets.

However, by then, other facilities will be installed and put into use, especially pilot simulators.

“The Croatian Armed Forces and our Air Force developed worrier capabilities. After the Homeland War, we continued to guard them and accept new ones. Those capabilities serve as a guarantee that both we and our future generations will live in peace,” said General Križanec.