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ZAGREB, Croatia – 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.