The United States is blocking Israel’s sale of aging F-16 fighter jets to Croatia, a member of the American-led NATO security alliance, Channel 10 news reported Thursday.
The deal, which was announced earlier this year, would see Israel sell a dozen US-manufactured F-16s from its fleet to Croatia for $500 million.
Greece, South Korea, Sweden, and the US also submitted bids for the Croatian tender to supply military jets to replace its outdated Russian-made MiG-21s.
Quoting unnamed Israeli officials, Channel 10 news reported the Trump administration was angry Israel added advanced Israeli-made electronic systems to the F-16s as part of efforts to convince Croatia to buy the planes.
The officials told the network the US believes Israel unfairly profited through its actions, as the F16s are American-made and were not supposed to be sold to a third-party without its approval.
The report also quoted the officials saying Croatia is furious about the holdup of the sale and recently told Israel to work out the matter with the US. The officials said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the sale during his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday.
“I’m in favor but Defense Secretary Mattis is against [the sale] — its him who is blocking it,” Channel 10 quotes Pompeo saying.
Netanyahu and his Croatian counterpart announced the agreement in January and Croatia’s top defense body gave its OK two months later.
Israel has been seeking a buyer for the aging fleet that its Air Force stopped using a number of years ago, according to Hadashot TV news. Some 30 old planes have been retired by Israel’s Air Force in recent years.
Source : Times of Israel