The Greek government has announced that the Israeli Ministry of Defense has won a tender for Elbit Systems to build a training center for the Greek air force in the largest defense deal ever between the two countries. Following the win, the sides will advance to finalize a contract.
Elbit, which already operates the Israeli Air Force’s flight school’s aircraft, is set to build a similar training center for the Hellenic Air Force, which will include 10 Italian-made Aermacchi M-346 aircraft made by the Leonardo Company, “Lavi” multirole fighter jets that are used by the Israeli flight school, and kits to upgrade flight systems on existing T-6 aircraft (also known as “Efroni” planes in the Israeli Air Force).
In addition, the deal will include the establishment of a flight training school, which will include simulator centers for both planes, which Elbit will operate to train the Greek crews. The deal is valued at $1.68 billion over the next 20 years, and will be concluded as part of an agreement between the Israeli and Greek governments.
In the past few years, defense relations between Israel and Greece have been strengthened. Greece purchased UAVs from Israel Aerospace Industries, and the Hellenic Air Force holds routine training exercises with the Israeli Air Force. The Greek navy is also expected to purchase new missile ships from Israeli shipyards.
“Providing the Greek air force with these important capabilities will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations between Israel and Greece. Their choice proves our leading position in the field of training, in providing technologies and proven know-how that improve readiness while lowering costs,” President and CEO of Elbit Bezhalel Machlis said.
“This agreement expresses the excellent and developing relations that we have with Greece. This is a long term relationship that will serve the interests of both Greece and Israel, promote stability in the Mediterranean region, and create hundreds of jobs in both countries,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.
“The Greek government’s approval of this deal is an additional historic step in strengthening security relations between both countries. This is not merely another defense export agreement, but rather a long term cooperation for the next 20 years at least,” reserve Maj. Gen. Yair Kolas, who serves as the head of the SIBAT division, or the International Defense Cooperation Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense said.