update desk

Israel likely to cancel F-16 sale to Croatia

James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of Defense at the time, rejected a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to soften U.S. conditions, including returning the planes to their initial state prior to Israeli upgrades.

Israel Air Force jets. Credit: Maj. Ofer via Wikimedia Commons.
Israel Air Force jets. Credit: Maj. Ofer via Wikimedia Commons.

Israel is expected to inform Croatia that it is canceling a $500 million sale of F-16s due to the United States denying an Israeli request to execute the deal.

Israeli Defense Ministry director Gen. Udi Adam and Michel Ben-Baruch, the head of SIBAT, the International Defense Cooperation Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, will visit Croatia this week to notify the Croatian Ministry of Defense that the agreement is nullified.

Then-U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis rejected a request last month from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to soften the U.S. conditions, including returning the planes to their initial state prior to Israeli upgrades.

The Croatians previously said that they would nullify the agreement if they couldn’t receive the “upgraded” Israeli type of the F-16s. Its defense ministry gave Israel a Jan. 11 deadline to clear the deal with the U.S. State Department.

The F-16 is a single-engine, supersonic multi-role fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the U.S. Air Force.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly supported the agreement, but told Netanyahu last month that Mattis blocked it.

Pompeo and Netanyahu met in Brazil this month, where the latter “received almost everything [he] wanted” except approval to proceed with the sale, a senior official told Israel’s Channel 10 news.

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