Republic of Croatia Armed Forces

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Republic of Croatia Armed Forces
Oružane snage Republike Hrvatske
Seal of Armed Forces of Croatia.png
Croatian Armed Forces emblem
Service branches Seal of Croatian Army.png Croatian Army
Seal of Croatian Navy.png Croatian Navy
Seal of Croatian Air Force.png Croatian Air Force and Defense
Commander-in-Chief Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
Defence Minister Ante Kotromanović
Chief of staff of the Armed Forces General Drago Lovrić
Military age 18 years of age (voluntary)
Conscription Abolished in 2008
Available for
military service
2,033,589 (2015 est.)[1], age 15–49
Fit for
military service
1,610,442 (2015 est.), age 15–49
Reaching military
age annually
55,349 (2015 est.)
Active personnel 14.790 (2014)[2] (ranked 95th)
Deployed personnel  Afghanistan - 84[3]
 Kosovo - 27
 Pakistan - 9
 Western Sahara - 6
 Haiti - 3
 Bosnia and Herzegovina - 2
 Cyprus - 2
 Liberia - 2
 Lebanon - 1
Budget ~835 million USD
~735 million Euro
~4.5 billion HRK [4]
Percent of GDP 1.37%[5] (2015)
Domestic suppliers Đuro Đaković (armored vehicles)
HS Produkt (small arms)
Foreign suppliers
 United States
Related articles
History 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 Republic of Croatia Armed Forces (Croatian: Oružane snage Republike Hrvatske - OSRH) is the military service of the Republic of Croatia

The President of the Republic of Croatia is the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief and it administrates it in times of war by giving orders to the Chief of staff, while their administration and the defense policy execution in times of peace is done by the Government through the Ministry of Defence. This unified institution consists of land, sea, and air branches referred to as:

Croatian Armed Forces are charged with protecting the Republic as well as supporting international peacekeeping efforts when mandated by the NATO, United Nations and/or European Union.


The total number of active military personnel in the Croatian Armed Forces stands at 17,500 and 6,000 reserves working in various service branches of the armed forces.[6]

  • Navy 2,000 personnel
  • Air Force 2,000 personnel
  • Army 12,500 personnel
  • Croatian General Staff and units under its direct command 1000 personnel

Total available male manpower aged 16–49 number 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.[7]


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 ever.

Defence Expenditures in recent years (example years - source Croatian MOD);

Year Amount (in HRK) % of GDP Change in %
2000 4.768 bln[8] 3.13 Steady
2001 4.909 bln[8] 3.01 Decrease 0.12
2002 4.659 bln[8] 2.64 Decrease 0.37
2003 4.814 bln[8] 2.54 Decrease 0.10
2004 4.102 bln[8] 2.00 Decrease 0.54
2005 4.106 bln[8] 1.87 Decrease 0.13
2006 4.200 bln 1.67 Decrease 0.20
2007 4.630 bln 1.69 Increase 0.02
2008 5.350 bln 1.79 Increase 0.10
2009 5.111 bln 1.52 Decrease 0.27
2010 4.811 bln 1.45 Decrease 0.12
2011 5.119 bln[9] 1.47 Increase 0.02
2012 4.828 bln 1.45 Decrease 0.02
2013 4.850 bln[10] 1.41 Decrease 0.04
2014 4.55 bln[11] 1.25 Decrease 0.16
2015 4.75 bln[11] 1.21 Decrease 0.04

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.[12][13]

Modernization, although sporadic, has provided the Armed forces with desperately needed new equipment, albeit in insufficient quantities to maintain NATO levels, which should be remedied over the coming years.

A long term modernization plan, 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.

At the moment the Croatian Air Force will keep 12 MiG-21bis fighter aircraft, which received a general overhaul in Ukraine in order to keep them operational for another 4 to 5 years.[12][13]

Petar Zrinski Military Academy

Petar Zrinski Military Academy Emblem

The Petar Zrinski military academy acts as an 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 Officer's Academy, and a school for non commissioned officers. In all the Academy has at any time 300 full-time staff and is the only Military Academy in Croatia. Each year some 100-120 foreign nationals attend the academy.

Structure of the Croatian Armed Forces 2009 (click to enlarge)
Croatian MiG-21UMD
One of 74 Croatian-built M-84A4 Sniper main battle tanks in service with the Croatian Army.
M-95 Degman, a prototype Croatian main battle tank (2 currently built). The Degman is a modernization of the M-84 tank.
Helsinki class missile boats


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 and Honour Guard

Special Operations Battalion (Croatian: Bojna za specijalna djelovanja or BSD) was founded on September 8, 2000 with the merging of the Special Combat Skills Center and some personnel from the 1st Croatian Guards Corps (1. Hrvatski Gardijski Zdrug). The Battalion has 300 men. Today, it is one of the most elite units of the Croatian military, as well as being one of the best trained and equipped special forces units in the region.[14]

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.

Other special operations units are the Military Intelligence Battalion (Vojno-obavještajna bojna or VOB) and Special Military Police Company (Satnija specijalne vojne policije or SSVP).

The duties of an Honour Guard are performed by the Počasno zaštitna bojna (300 men), located at Zagreb in the Tuškanac military base.[14]


A $3-Billion modernization plan was proposed by the then Prime Minister Ivica Racan 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 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. 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.

Air Force

  • 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; although this might change in future as needs arise. 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 about to be completed at cost of 80 million kuna: 12 MiG-21 fighters modernized and overhauled in Ukraine. At this point it was the cheapest alternative for the Government which lacked the funds for the purchase of new fighters.
  • 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 after. 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 and thus extend their life in future due to the age and stress on their airframes. The purchase of second-hand aircraft is still a possibility going forward, but with the cost of second-hand fighters not far off from new fighters, it is not a likely option.
  • Purchase of up to 8 western made helicopters for SAR/Medevac and ASW as well as MP - cost of program not specified but preferences for EC135 Helicopter had been stated because MUP recently purchased 2 such helicopters at cost of 50 million kuna for the two. Additional mission equipment might increase the cost for first 4 EC 135 helicopters; however, ASW/MR helicopters on the other hand might be a lot more expensive. Program cost First 4 helicopters 100-120 million kuna, Procurement of 4 additional ASW/MR helicopters won't 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, feasible only after 2020.
  • Purchase of up to 10-12 Transport Helicopters (after 2020) - replacing older Mil 8 and 17: 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 brand new western helicopters? With the Government indicating that purchase of 10 new western 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-80's with a modern western IFV when funds become available. Most likely contenders for this program are additional Patria AMVs in the IFV configuration.

Arms Exports

Croatia as a small country 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.[15] 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.[16][3] 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,[17][18] 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 and without Croatian Government approval or knowledge, most of these arms were exported via Jordan.[19]

In 2014 Croatia arms exports have reached 1.5Bn 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.[20] Croatian arms exports are growing steadily at 10-15% yoy and they're 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 middle east, supplying complex military hardware such as Patria AMV including a newly developed 30mm overhead weapon station (valued at €1.25 million each) and said vehicles valued at €1.75 million. Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia have been mentioned as potential customers although so far no concrete contracts have been signed. Croatian firms are participating in Kuwaiti and UAE tenders for "next" APC programs, each valued at billions of euros.

International cooperation

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 Nr. 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 Organization Nr. of personnel Time
United Nations Observer Mission in GeorgiaUNOMIG United Nations Georgia 3
United Nations Mission of Support in East TimorUNMISET 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
International military exercises Organizations Country Total Number of NATO and Croatian Military personnel Time
Noble Midas 2007 NATO and non-member Republic of Croatia Croatia 9000 2007


See also


  4. [1]
  6. "Military Balance in Europe 2011"., March 07, 2011.
  7. Martina Čizmić (19 October 2007). "Nema više obveznog vojnog roka" (in Croatian). Nacional (weekly). Archived from the original on 1 July 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Alvir, Marija (March 2005). "Proračun MORH-a neće više padati". Hrvatski vojnik (in Croatian). Croatian Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 September 2011.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. [2]
  10. blnref name="">"NACRT PRORAČUNA - kupuje se Air Tractor za obuku i jedan ophodni brod do 2015". Retrieved 24 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 "NACRT PRORAČUNA - kupuje se Air Tractor za obuku i jedan ophodni brod do 2015". Retrieved 24 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1
  13. 13.0 13.1 "HRT: MORH predstavio ostvarenje plana nabave za 2013. i plan za 2014". Hrvatska radiotelevizija. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1
  16. C. J. CHIVERS;ERIC SCHMITT (25 February 2013). "In Shift, Saudis Are Said to Arm Rebels in Syria". Retrieved 24 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Croatian military output approaches USD1 billion". Retrieved 24 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Hrvatska trgovala preko Jordana: Siriji prodano oružje vrijedno 200 milijuna kuna". Novi list online portal. Retrieved 24 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links