Israel and Greece Sign Their Largest Ever Defense Agreement

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Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi embraces Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias during a meeting in Paphos
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi embraces Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias during a meeting in AprilCredit: POOL/ REUTERS

Israel and Greece have signed their largest-ever defense procurement deal, Israel's Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

As part of the deal, Israel's Elbit Systems Ltd. will operate a training center for the Greek air force under a contract worth about $1.65 billion, the ministry said.

The training center will be modeled on Israel's own flight academy and will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italian company Leonardo, the ministry said.

Elbit will supply kits to upgrade and operate Greece's T-6 aircraft and also provide training, simulators and logistical support.

"I am certain that [this program] will upgrade the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece and thus the partnership between our two countries will deepen on the defense, economic and political levels," said Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz.

The announcement follows a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the UAE, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli foreign ministers, who agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries.

Elbit said it will supply new M-346 training aircraft and maintain the the Greek air force's entire training fleet, comprising dozens of M-346 and T-6 aircraft, for a period of approximately 20 years.

Elbit beat Canada's CAE defense firm for the deal, possibly thanks to a number of factors: Elbit's long experience working with Israel's air force; the fact that unlike CAE, Elbit has experience using the M-346 jet trainer; and Elbit's success working with the U.K.'s air force in a similar project that was expanded in 2020, when the Royal Air Force added four T-6 trainer aircraft to its training fleet. Elbit has been involved in operating a Royal Air Force flight school since 2016, along with the U.S. company KBR, in which cadets are trained to use three different types of craft.

Elbit also provides operations and maintenance service to three types of training aircraft for the Israeli air force: the T-6, which was part of a $38 million, five-year contract that began in June of 2020; the Italian-produced M-346; and the Grob G 120

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