By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lockheed Martin co, the United States’ largest weapons maker, has fielded interest from Croatia regarding the purchase of stealthy F-35 jets, a Lockheed executive said on Friday.
Greg Ulmer, the executive vice president of Lockheed’s Aeronautics unit, told reporters, “they’ve shown interest” in buying the jets, which are a big part of Lockheed’s revenue.
A representative from the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Washington said “we are evaluating an offer of the new U.S. F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft, together with some other responses to our tender for a multi-role fighter aircraft, new or used,” but did not address the F-35.
Croatia is evaluating U.S., French and Swedish offers for fighter jets as it looks to modernize its air force, which now flies Russian-made MiG-21 jets dating from its past within the former Yugoslavia.
Croatia wanted to buy 12 used F-16 fighter jets from Israel, but it fell through after Israel said https://www.reuters.com/article/us-croatia-israel-military/israel-says-u-s-blocks-its-sale-of-fighter-jets-to-croatia-idUSKCN1P42MN in 2019 it could not get approval from the United States for the sale.
Other international customers for the fifth-generation F-35 include Canada, Finland, and Switzerland, which are running competitions for a future jet purchase. Additional customer prospects for Lockheed’s F-35 include Greece, Spain, Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries, Ulmer said in a media conference call.
Lockheed has also seen international interest for as many as 300 of its fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets on top of the current production backlog of 128 jets, Ulmer said.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Dan Grebler and David Gregorio)