Israeli Defense Firm Elbit Wins Contract to Build Greek Air Force Flight School

Defense deal inked amid growing tensions between Greece and Turkey over their mutual claims to major gas reserves discovered in the Aegean Sea

Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison
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Handout photo provided on January 5, 2021 featuring Elbit's T-6 Efroni aircraft.
Handout photo provided on January 5, 2021 featuring Elbit's T-6 Efroni aircraft. Credit: Elbit Systems
Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison

Elbit Systems has won a contract to build and operate a flight school for the Greek air force. The 20-year contract is worth $1.7 billion.

The deal includes providing ten M-346 aircraft, assistance in upgrading T-6 aircraft, and providing simulators, training and logistics.

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The contract, which is part of a defense deal between Greece and Israel, was signed following an agreement between the two countries’ defense ministries and approved by the Greek parliament. It comes against the background of the growing tension between Greece and Turkey over their mutual claims to major gas reserves discovered in the Aegean Sea over the past decade.

Elbit won the contract after beating out Canadian company CAE as well as a British competitor. Elbit apparently won the contract due to its extensive experience with the Israel Air Force, its experience operating M-346s and the fact that it carried out a similar project for the British air force that was expanded in 2020 when another four T-6 airplanes were added to its training school fleet.

Elbit was also boosted by its innovative simulator technologies, ground systems and cockpit systems – including an avionics system for the cockpit that can simulate various in-flight scenarios, including stats on an enemy country, straight into the pilot’s visor.

In 2016, Elbit ran a flight school for the British air force, in partnership with the company KBR. The pilots there trained in three different airplane models intended for different kinds of flights – T-6, BeechCraft and Embraer’s Phenom 300E.

The British flight school contract totaled some $713 million for 18 years, and aside from the steady cash flow it brought the company, it reinforced Elbit’s ties to the British army, raising its prospects in future contracts, such as the one it now signed with the Greek air force.

Elbit supplies operating and maintenance services for three types of training air craft for the Israel Air Force: the T-6, after winning a five-year contract for $38 million in June; the M-346, manufactured by Italy’s Leonardo; and the GROB G-120 A.

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