Israel has canceled a sale of a dozen used F-16 fighter jets to Croatia because the United States opposed the deal.
U.S. officials objected to another country selling F-16s with Israeli upgrades because it encourages nations not to buy from the original manufacturer in the United States.
Croatia, a NATO member, was prepared to buy 12 used F-16 Barak fighters from Israel to replace 60-year-old MiG-21s. The deal was worth $500 million.
“The Ministry of Defense attaches great importance to the deepening of cooperation between Israel and Croatia,” Israeli Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam said. “Croatia has acted professionally and judiciously all along the way. Unfortunately, we have not been able to realize the deal because of problems that could not have been expected and are not under the control of the countries.”
The fighter jets were originally manufactured in the United States but Israel upgraded them with radar and other electronics. Croatia wanted the Israeli technology, which is why it didn’t purchase the planes directly from the United States. U.S. officials have been angry that Israel would unfairly profit from the deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently in Brazil and the two discussed the sale. Netanyahu was unable to change Pompeo’s opposition.
Before that, former Defense Secretary James Mattis rejected a request from Netanyahu to approve the acquisition. He has since resigned as Pentagon chief.
Other countries bid on the chance to sell aircraft to Croatia, including Greece, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.