Republic of Croatia Armed Forces
|Republic of Croatia Armed Forces|
|Oružane snage Republike Hrvatske|
Croatian Armed Forces emblem
|Defence Minister||Damir Krstičević|
|Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces||Mirko Šundov|
|Military age||18 years of age (voluntary)|
|Conscription||Abolished in 2008|
1,610,442 males (2015 est.)1,323,985 females, age 15–49
55,349 males (2015 est.)58,355 females (2015 est.)
|Active personnel||21,000 (2016)|
c. 4.8 billion HRK |
(c. 767 million USD)
(c. 653 million Euro)
|Percent of GDP||1.25% (2018)|
Đuro Đaković (armored vehicles) |
HS Produkt (small arms)
Military history of Croatia|
Ban Josip Jelačić
Nikola Šubić Zrinski
Croatian War of Independence
Croatian National Guard
War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Ranks||Croatian military ranks|
The President is the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief, and exercises administrative powers in times of war by giving orders to the chief of staff, while administration and defense policy execution in peacetime is carried out by the Government through the Ministry of Defence. This unified institution consists of land, sea, and air branches referred to as:
- Croatian Army (Hrvatska kopnena vojska)
- Croatian Navy (Hrvatska ratna mornarica)
- Croatian Air Force (Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo)
The Army has 650 AFVs, around 150 pieces of artillery, 100 MLRSs, around 70 tanks, and 20 SPGs. The Air Force has 12 combat aircraft (12 MiG-21s) and 16 Bell OH-58 Kiowa attack helicopters. The Navy has 29 ships, out of which five 60-80 meter fast attack craft are used in offensive capabilities.
The total number of active military personnel in the Croatian Armed Forces stands at 14,506 and 6,000 reserves working in various service branches of the armed forces. In May 2016, Armed Forces had 16,019 members, of which 14,506 were active military personnel and 1,513 civil servants. Of the 14,506 active military personnel, 3,183 were officers, 5,389 non-commissioned officers, 5,393 soldiers, 520 military specialists, 337 civil servants and 1,176 other employees.
Total available male manpower aged 16–49 numbers 1,035,712, of which 771,323 are technically fit for military service. Male citizens are now no longer subject to compulsory military service since January 1, 2008. However, the last generation of 2007 servicemen was also absolved of compulsory service by an act from then Minister of Defence Berislav Rončević.
The Croatian military budget for the past 6–7 years was kept below 2% of GDP, a vast difference from the 1990s when defence expenditure represented a major stake in Croatian budgetary expenditure due to the Croatian War of Independence. For example, 1995 Croatian defense budget stood at 12.4 billion Croatian Kuna or just over 12% of GDP, which was also the highest defense expenditure rate ever.
Defence expenditures in recent years (source Croatian MOD);
|Year||Amount (in HRK)||% of GDP||Change in %|
|2019||5.075 bln (projected)||1.28|
|2020||5.31 bln (projected)||1.29|
Although the budget has been decreased from year to year, the Croatian Armed Forces were able to maintain military readiness and to participate in major NATO exercises in Croatia and overseas. This downsizing of the armed forces has allowed for more funds to be allocated to modernization over the past few years with an average of 1.6 billion kuna spent on modernization, infrastructure and construction of new facilities.
A long term modernization plan for 2015-2024 has been published outlining overall goals and is available for download (102 pages) at the Ministry of Defence of Croatia website. According to earlier reports from the government, the Croatian Armed Forces are set to receive vitally needed new equipment, including a battalion of self-propelled howitzers, new infantry fighting vehicles, at least eight brand new helicopters and a squadron of fighter aircraft.
Dr. Franjo Tuđman Military Academy
The Dr. Franjo Tuđman Military Academy acts as a school of higher learning responsible for training and educating future generations of military personnel. The academy consists of several schools including "Ban Josip Jelačić", "Blago Zadro", "Katarina Zrinska", the Officers Academy, and a school for non commissioned officers. The academy has 300 full-time staff and is the only military academy in Croatia. Each year also 100-120 foreign nationals attend the academy.
The Commander-in-Chief of all Croatian armed forces in peace and war is the President of the Republic. The Commander-in-Chief prescribes the organization of the Croatian Armed Forces at the proposal of the Chief of General Staff, with consent of the Minister of Defence.
The Armed Forces consist of peacetime and wartime components. The peacetime component is composed of the active military officers, civil servants and employees in the Croatian Armed Forces, cadets, and conscripts serving a 6-month national service and reservists when on military exercise. The wartime component of the Armed Forces includes all other reservists.
The General Staff is part of the Ministry of Defense in charge of commanding, training and use of the Armed Forces. It also has a number of units under its direct command, including the Special Operations Battalion, Honor Guard Battalion and several others.
In peace, the Commander-in-Chief exercises his command through the Minister of Defence. In war and in cases where the Minister of Defence is not fulfilling his orders, the Commander-in-Chief exercises his command directly through the General Staff Commander.
The Croatian Parliament exercises democratic control over the Armed Forces by adopting defence strategy, defence budget, and defence laws.
Special Forces Command
The Special Forces Command was established in February 2015, succeeding the Special Operations Battalion (Croatia), in accordance with the Long-term Development Plan of the Croatian Armed Forces in the period 2015- 2024. The command staff is composed of the members who served in the special units, guards brigades and reconnaissance units of the Croatian Armed Forces. The main mission of the Special Forces Command is to ensure combat readiness of the special forces in the protection of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Croatia, as well as for the participation in NATO-led operations. Colonel Perica Turalija is the current commanding officer of the command.
The Croatian General Staff exercises direct command over the battalion which thus elevates the unit to strategic level deployment for quicker reaction and overall better and faster response to tactical and strategic situations. Also, this means that members of all three branches of the Croatian armed forces can apply for selection.
A $3 billion modernization plan was proposed by the then Prime Minister Ivica Račan of the SDP led government in 2003, with planned modernization starting in 2006 and ending in 2015. However it has been delayed in part due to the subsequent economic recession, but also due to serious corruption that has cost the Croatian MOD several billion kuna since 2006. A new plan under the current Prime Minister Zoran Milanović should define exactly how and what the Croatian armed forces should look like by 2023. A defense white paper was published in 2015 with emphasis placed on modernization of the Army.
Proposed defence programs and updates/upgrades:
- Procurement of 126 Patria AMV 8x8 Modular APC/IFV - 2.25 billion kuna (additional vehicles might be ordered after 2016) - All vehicles have been delivered so far with 115 Protector (RWS) remote stations delivered in two batches under $38 million contract. The initial order for 8 out of 24 30mm RWS is yet to be made, the contract is valued at some $55 million and includes 30mm RWs and 2 Javelin/or EuroSpike launchers.
- Procurement of 94 Iveco LMV (Light Multi-role Vehicles) at a cost of 220 million kuna by late 2012. So far only 14 vehicles have been delivered without any indication if the future 80 vehicles will be needed because the Army received over 200 new light armoured personnel carriers from the US.
- Procurement of advanced artillery systems, up to 18 x 155 mm self-propelled howitzers are to be purchased before 2015 to replace obsolete 2S1 self-propelled howitzers. The Croatian MOD is negotiating an order for 18 PzH2000 Howitzers with the German Army, value of the contract: $36 million.
- Procurement of 550 5-ton army trucks, 200 7.5-ton military trucks and 300 4WD vehicles - the program is in full swing and the first batch of MAN (150), Mercedes (30) and Iveco (50) military trucks was delivered. The Croatian Army also ordered large numbers of new 4WD vehicles, Mercedes-Benz G-Class - 120, Land Rover Wolf - 60, Toyota Land Cruiser - 50, Nissan Navara - 50, and took delivery in 2005-2007. Croatia is negotiating with Germany over the purchase of 380 second-hand army trucks of various sorts, cost of this program projected at 40-50 million kuna.
- Modernization of M-84A and M-84A4 Snajper MBTs and upgrade to M-84D standard. The program is at a standstill and is unlikely to receive further funding due to high costs involved of nearly 20 million kuna per tank, but overhaul of existing fleet might be completed by the end of 2017 at cost of 120 million kuna (24 vehicles already overhauled at cost of 60 million kuna).
- Introduction of new 5.56 mm NATO standard VHS assault rifle. Cost of program - 200 million kuna (20,000 rifles with day/night sights and grenade launchers)
- Scores of smaller programs, communication equipment, night vision capability, electronic sensors, NBC equipment, battlefield management systems and modernization of artillery systems with new sights and electronic fire control systems are planned.
- Procurement of advanced short to medium range NATO SAM system. As of now no real funding has been mentioned other than the statement that this project is a priority and current requirements call for one battery. Estimated value - $50–70 million for new system. Alternately a second-hand system might be obtained as a donation by the United States, in which case only the VAT cost will be incurred.
- Procurement of short range SAM systems - no indication of what system or specifications other than a requirement for a range of up to 10 km. Intent is for up to 3 batteries with one battery being ready by 2015/6. Total funding for this program hasn't been made public yet, but similar western systems tend to be in range of $17–20 million per battery.
- Overhaul of MiG-21 fighters - program is completed at cost of 80 million kuna with all 12 MiG-21 fighters modernized and overhauled in Ukraine.
- Purchase of an advanced fighter aircraft - medium to long term program, purchase of up to 18 x 4.5-generation fighters. Program cost: 12-15 billion kuna. This program is planned as a long term investment in the air force designed to provide the next fighter, with new fighters joining the Air Force around 2020 and thereafter. Most likely candidates are the Jas 39E/F and the F-16 E/F Block 60. MiG-21 fighters currently in service will by then no longer be able to be overhauled due to the age and stress on their airframes. The purchase of second-hand aircraft is still a possibility, but with the cost of second-hand fighters not much less than that of new fighters, it is not a likely option.
- Purchase of up to 8 helicopters for SAR/Medevac and ASW as well as maritime patrol - cost of program not specified but preferences for the EC135 helicopter had been stated because MUP recently purchased 2 helicopters of this type. Program cost for first 4 helicopters: 100-120 million kuna. Procurement of 4 additional ASW/MR helicopters will not be feasible before 2020. Program cost for these 4 helicopters: $170–180 million if AS 565 are chosen.
- Purchase of replacement transport aircraft for An-32B. This program is feasible after 2020 and would involve a purchase of 2-3 medium tactical transport aircraft, C27J and CN295 being most likely candidates. Program cost: 550-580 million kuna for 2 aircraft.
- Purchase of up to 10-12 transport helicopters (after 2020) - replacing older Mil 8. The cost of overhauling these was questioned as to whether it was cost effective to continue overhauling these older helicopters every few years instead of purchasing new helicopters. With the Government indicating that purchase of 10 new helicopters might be the only option after 2020. Most likely candidates are NH90 or AS 532. Program cost: 2.5 billion kuna. 10 recently purchased Mil Mi-171Sh helicopters will continue on in their service with Croatian Air Force for at least another 20 years.
- Purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles - no quantity specified but a purchase will be made to enforce Croatia's maritime zone and border controls as part of the EU Schengen Agreement, which Croatia plans to join in 2015. Program cost: 100-120 million kuna, half financed by the EU.
Navy plans are still being worked on but present plans call for a moderate expansion of the naval force.
- 10 new patrol boats, locally built, 42 meters in length. Cost of program 750 million kuna, or 375 million for first 5 ships, first to enter service in 2015, with remaining 4 in 2016 and 2017.
- 2 new corvettes - 80–125 meters in length. Cost of program 3.0 billion kuna. Program is at standstill due to lack of funds, feasible only after 2020.
- Overhaul of existing 2 King class fast attack crafts, including new engines. Cost of program - 40 million kuna. 1 ship overhauled in 2010/11 and 2nd should be done in 2014.
- Upgrade of the RBS-15 missiles. Cost of program - 120 million kuna. 24-32 of the missiles on-hand to receive an upgrade and overhaul by 2015/16 with remaining missiles being scrapped or sold.
- Overhaul of sea radar Falcon 2 Enhanced Peregrine - Program is being financed by US government at estimated cost of $8 million.
- Possible purchase of 2nd minesweeper before 2020; although there are only indications that this might happen if funds can be allocated. Program cost - 80 million kuna.
Programs under revision
- BVP M-80A Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement - Program is at a standstill and might no longer be an option. Croatian MOD stated that it will replace its M-80s with a modern western IFV when funds become available. Most likely contenders for this program are additional Patria AMVs in the IFV configuration.
As a small country, Croatia has a relatively well developed arms industry that is highly competitive internationally with significant annual arms exports. In 2012, Croatia managed to export nearly €120 million. However it has been reported in The New York Times that Croatia has been arming Syrian rebels with Croatian manufactured arms used during the Homeland War, arms Croatia no longer uses due to their obsolescence. Nevertheless, these arms played a crucial role in some significant rebel gains during 2012. As a result of these arms sales into this volatile region the Croatian government ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Croatian UN Golan Heights contingent to avoid their being targeted in retaliation.
In 2013 Croatia exported €143 million worth of arms, however it is not clear if this also includes $36.5 million worth of arms Croatia exported to Jordan for Syrian rebels. Croatia was the top supplier of arms to Syrian rebels in 2013, but much of it through illicit channels without Croatian government approval or knowledge. Most of these arms were exported via Jordan.
In 2014 Croatian arms exports reached 1.5 bn HRK (Croatian kuna) or €200 million or $257 million, the majority of exports being to NATO allies and Australia. In late 2014 the Croatian Defence Minister announced a major export deal to Iraq including the State of Kurdistan. This agreement includes the sale of 20,000 VHS Rifles, 150,000 complete sets of uniforms, helmets and associated equipment valued at €100 million. Croatian arms exports are growing steadily at 10-15% yoy and were expected to reach 1.75 billion HRK in 2015 or around €230 million, although much of the equipment exported is non-lethal. Croatian firms are well positioned on some major arms tenders in the Middle East, supplying complex military hardware such as the Patria AMV incorporating a newly developed 30mm overhead weapon station (valued at €1.25 million each) and said vehicles valued at €1.75 million. Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia have been mentioned as potential customers, although no concrete contracts have been signed so far. Croatian firms are participating in Kuwaiti and UAE tenders for next-generation APC programs, each valued at billions of euros.
Croatian arms exports have grown steadily for the better part of this decade and have reached €325 million per year, placing Croatia in the top 10 arms exporters within NATO, behind the US, Germany, UK, France, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland and Norway. The vast majority of these exports are to NATO partners such as the US, Norway, Australia, Canada, France. Croatia granted €5.75 billion in export licenses in 2016 and 2017; however, only a fraction of this sum has materialized in actual arms exports.
On April 1, 2009 Croatia joined NATO and on July 1, 2013 it became the 28th member of the European Union. The Croatian Armed Forces participate in many of the (military) aspects of both organizations as well as actively participating in many United Nations peacekeeping operations worldwide.
|Current Mission||Organization||Country||Number of personnel|
|United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan - UNMOGIP||United Nations||India and Pakistan||7|
|European Union mission in Chad - EUFOR Tchad/RCA||European Union||Chad||15|
|International Security Assistance Force - ISAF||NATO||Afghanistan||321|
|United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara - MINURSO||United Nations||Western Sahara||3|
|United Nations Mission in Liberia - UNMIL||United Nations||Liberia||3|
|United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire - UNOCI||United Nations||Ivory Coast||3|
|United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti - MINUSTAH||United Nations||Haiti||3|
|United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus - UNFICYP||United Nations||Cyprus||3|
|Former Mission||Operation||Country||Number of personnel|
|United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia - UNOMIG||United Nations||Georgia||3|
|United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor - UNMISET||United Nations||East Timor||3|
|United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone - UNAMSIL||United Nations||Sierra Leone||10|
|United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea - UNMEE||United Nations||Ethiopia and Eritrea||7|
|United Nations Disengagement Observer Force - UNDOF||United Nations||Golan Heights - Syria and Israel||95|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Military of Croatia.|
- Croatian Armed Forces Official website
- Croatian Forces International Volunteers Association official website
- Croatian Military Academy official website
- - Defense planning and procurement.
- - long term planning and long term defense strategy
- Photos BSD
- CROMIL - Croatian military's official English-language magazine