Arie Egozi/TEL AVIV

Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) Lahav division and Elbit Systems are to upgrade 30 Croatian air force Mikoyan MiG-21bis aircraft, following the signing of a framework deal on 15 February in Tel Aviv by the Israeli and Croatian defence ministers.

The two Israeli companies will negotiate the details of the contract with the Croatian Ministry of Defence and Zagreb-based ZTZ, which will carry out the upgrade work. The value of the deal could total $100 million.

IAI's and Elbit Systems' co-operation in upgrading the Croatian fighters comes following strong pressure by the Israeli Ministry of Defence. In the past, the two companies have competed fiercely on similar contracts.

The upgrade will be based on MiG-21 packages designed by the two Israeli companies. IAI has built a prototype of an advanced-configuration MiG-21bis. The new MiG-21-2000 upgrade includes an Elta EL/M-2032 advanced multimode radar, two multifunction colour liquid crystal displays and other advanced avionics. Elbit's upgrade work includes a helmet-mounted sight, a head-up display, integrated electronic warfare suite, identification friend or foe system and 1553 databus.

The new configuration offers improved radar performance, which is also easier to operate, according to David Dagan, Lahav division general manager. The improvements would bring the Croatian MiG-21s up to NATO standards of compatibility, as well as allowing the use of Russian and Western weapons.

Although no mention has been made of an associated weapons package, Romanian MiG-21 Lancers upgraded by Elbit and local company Aerostar have Rafael Python 3 infrared missiles. Croatia is likely to require the Python 4, to match Yugoslavia's Vympel R-73 (AA-11 Adder) infrared missiles.

Other options could include the Litening laser designator and electro-optical system and the Opher laser-guided bomb, which has been displayed on Israeli-modified MiG-21s recently.

Source: Flight International