Croatia Defence & Security Report Q3 2013
Published by Business Monitor International
on Apr 24, 2013
, 57 pages
PDF - Download Now with 3 Quarterly Updates format - Delivered by download
The Croatian armed forces are continuing the reform process that began in 2006. As of 2013, they are beyond the halfway point of this initiative, and have enacted some important reforms, not least of which is the professionalisation of the country's armed forces. The army remains Croatia's dominant means of power projection; with the navy performing a coastal defence and logistics role, and the air force assisting in the logistics mission, alongside its traditional mission of defending the country's airspace. For the time being, Croatia's deployment to Afghanistan remains the country's largest overseas mission, occupying up to 300 personnel. Zagreb is expected to retain its deployment in Afghanistan until NATO begins to withdraw combat forces from the country in the 2014/2015 timeframe. Beyond Afghanistan, Croatia remains committed to a number of other NATO operations, notably in the Balkans; and UN peacekeeping deployments around the world, deploying small numbers of personnel to this end.
A number of procurement projects are either ongoing or are at the planning stage. These procurement programmes are expected to see the acquisition of defence equipment from Western suppliers. For example, the Croatian Army's Infantry Fighting Vehicle fleet is being enhanced with the supply of new vehicles, while the service is also acquiring new light vehicle. In terms of armaments, the army has an outstanding requirement for a new 155mm self-propelled artillery system, new assault rifles, and is currently acquiring machine guns and night vision systems. The army's logistics fleet is being enhanced with new trucks and jeeps. A number of outstanding requirements also exist for the force, including new heavy equipment transporters, communications systems, plus air surveillance and weapons-locating radars.
The Croatian Air Force has a requirement to purchase between six and twelve new Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA). These new aircraft are expected to be sourced from either European or American suppliers. Zagreb is currently exploring a number of options regarding how these aircraft could be purchased. One possibility includes a bilateral procurement with Slovenia which could see the aircraft organised into a joint Slovene-Croatian air defence and ground attack formation. Alternatively, Croatia has suggested the possibility of a four-way MRCA procurement in concert with Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey although, for now, this suggestion has yet to translate into a formal four-nation acquisition. Other options for Croatia include the acquisition of used combat aircraft to provide a temporary measure so as to delay the acquisition of a new MRCA until the economy improves. Alternatively, Zagreb could opt to do nothing until Croatia's economic situation is more stable, and request that other NATO members protect its airspace until it performs an acquisition. Away from the MRCA requirement, Croatia has shown an interest in joining NATO's Strategic Airlift Capability Programme.
While both the air Force and army are either planning, or in the process of executing, significant acquisitions of new equipment, the Croatian Navy has few aspirations as far as the procurement of new equipment is concerned, beyond the eventual purchase of four patrol vessels. However, the armed forces as a whole are enhancing their strategic and tactical communications networks and systems. This has resulted in the acquisition of new radio equipment, and battle management systems for the army's artillery branch.
Over the coming months, Croatia is expected to continue the modernisation efforts that it commenced in 2006. Few expect the government to halt or abandon these initiatives. The major question regards the pace at which they can be conducted due to the current health of the Croatian economy. Continuing economic difficulties could see a number of acquisition programmes being postponed into the future in order to save funds.