WARSAW — The Croatian government has unveiled plans to acquire new fighter jets with the aim of replacing its Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21s.

The planned purchase was announced following a meeting between with the participation of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic.

The two leading contenders for the designed deal are Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Saab's JAS-39 Gripen, with Zagreb planning to buy aircraft that which are either new or currently used by other NATO member states, local newspaper daily Jutarnji first list reported. AOther analyzsed alternatives considered included France's Mirage, Israeli Kfir and a version of South Korea's T-50.

The Croatian government is reportedly aiming to replace its Soviet-designed fighter jets with Western-made aircraft as part of the country's ongoing efforts to modernize its Air Force's fleet and eliminate weapons and military equipment used by Russia and its allies.

Currently, the Croatian Air Force has a total of 12 MiG-21bisD/UMD aircraft in its fleet.

Under the plan, the new fighter jet for the country's armed forces is to be selected by the end of this year, with a deal with its manufacturer expected to be signed in 2016, according to government representatives.

The amount of the planned procurement, as well as the estimated worth of the acquisition, was not disclosed by the Croatian authorities.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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