WARSAW — The Croatian Parliament has approved the contract to acquire 16 Bell Helicopter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helos from the US military surplus, the country's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The deal, which covers the acquisition of the copters, three training simulators and related equipment and services, is estimated to be worth some 286.5 million kuna (US $41 million).

The procurement will enhance the copter capabilities of the Croatian Armed Forces, the statement said. It will also increase Croatia's air strike capacity, as the helos' weapon pylons enable four standard weapon combinations configurations of the machine gun, the semi-active laser Hellfire missile, the Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS) missile, and the 2.75" Folding Fin Aerial Rocket (FFAR), according to the Croatian ministry.

Under the plan, the copters are to be delivered to the Croatian Air Force late this year.

The Defense Ministry is also pursuing its  plan to acquire new fighter jets and replace the country's fleet of 12 Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21 aircraft. The two leading contenders for the planned  contract are Saab's JAS-39 Gripen and Lockheed Martin's F-16. Zagreb aims to buy aircraft that are either new or currently used by other NATO member states, according to the information obtained by local newspaper Jutarnji List. Other considered options include the Israeli Kfir, France's Mirage, and a version of the South Korean T-50.