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January 5, 2021 10:24 am

Greece, Israel to Sign Largest-Ever Defense Procurement Deal

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Greek counterpart, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, hold a virtual toast to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic ties between their countries, May 21, 2020. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO. – Greece has approved Israel’s bid for a 20-year, $1.68 billion defense contract for the establishment of a flight school for the Hellenic Air Force, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday. The defense procurement agreement, the signing of which now depends on negotiations with the Greek Defense Ministry, will be the largest ever between the two countries.

The agreement is a “long-term partnership” that “reflects the excellent and developing relations we have with Greece” said Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who added that it would create hundreds of jobs in both countries and “promote stability” in the Mediterranean.

Modeled after the Israel Air Force flight academy, the Greek school, which is to be established and operated by Israel’s Elbit Systems, will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by the Italian company Leonardo. The aircraft will be Israeli variants, known as “Lavi,” which, according to Elbit, are equipped with “unique avionics and embedded training solutions.”

These aircraft are also employed in the Israeli flight school and are considered very successful, according to the Defense Ministry statement.

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Within the framework of the agreement, Elbit Systems will also provide kits to upgrade and operate the Hellenic Air Force’s Beechcraft T-6 Texan II training aircraft, as well as training, simulators and logistical support. In the future, the parties will also consider areas of cooperation between the Israeli and Greek flight academies.

Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yair Kulas, the head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate, said, “The Greek government’s approval of this agreement is a historic step in further deepening the excellent defense relations between our two countries. This is not just a defense export agreement, but rather a partnership for at least 20 years. I would like to thank the Greek Ministry of National Defense for its trust, and for assigning this important task to the Israel Ministry of Defense and our excellent defense industry.”

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