Israel inks $1.7 billion deal to run flight school for Greek Air Force

Israel to build a flight school and supply training aircraft, simulators and support to the Hellenic Air Force.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Ministry of Defense announced that Israel and Greece will sign an agreement worth $1.7 billion under which Israel will provide equipment and infrastructure to the Hellenic Air Force to train its future pilots.

The agreement, which will be signed by both defense ministries, includes the establishment and operation of a flight school for the Hellenic Air Force, 10 M-346 Lavi training jets, the maintenance for T-6 propeller aircraft, as well as the provision of simulators, training and logistic support.

The government to government deal will span over 20 years and use the services of the major Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems.

“This agreement reflects the excellent and developing relations we have with Greece,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “It is a long-term partnership that will serve the interests of both Israel and Greece, create hundreds of jobs in both countries, and promote stability in the Mediterranean.”

Gantz said he told his Greek counterpart, Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, he expected the recent strengthening of defense relations between the countries to deepen further.

Israel’s Defense Ministry said it won the international tender for the project, and as part of the agreement the flight school will be built and maintained by Elbit Systems, noting it’s the largest defense procurement agreement between the two countries to date.

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The Greek flight school will be modeled after the Israel Air Force (IAF) flight academy, the Greek school will be equipped with 10 of the Israeli version of the Italian made M-346 training jets, which the IAF uses to train Israeli fighter pilots.

As part of the agreement, Elbit will upgrade and operate the Hellenic Air Force’s existing T-6 aircraft as well as provide training, simulators and logistical support.

“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,” said Brig. Gen. (Res.), Yair Kulas, who heads the Defense Ministry’s Directorate for International Defense Cooperation.

Last year the two countries signed a deal for Israel to produce a corvette for the Hellenic Navy, and the two sides together with Cyprus are building a massive underwater gas pipeline to Europe from Israel’s offshore gas fields.