image Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense

Israel, Greece sign record defense pact

Israel and Greece have signed their biggest-ever defense procurement deal to date.

The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period, according to a statement TV7 obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office.

The International Flight Training Center for the Hellenic Air Force will be modeled after the Israel Air Force (IAF) flight academy, and equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italian company, Leonardo.

Elbit Systems will provide kits to upgrade and operate the Hellenic Air Force’s T-6 aircraft, as well as training, simulators and logistical support.

Within the framework of the agreement, the parties will also consider areas of cooperation between the Israeli flight academy and Hellenic Airforce Academy.

“This cooperation agreement rests on the excellence of Israel’s defense industry and the strong relations between the defense establishments of Greece and Israel,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

After thanking Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos for promoting the agreement, Gantz expressed confidence that the pact “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.”

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

In related developments, the IAF joined its counterparts from Greece, the United States, Cyprus, Canada, the UAE and France for the first time for a Hellenic Armed Forces exercise dubbed “Iniochos.”

The drill, which kicked off at the Greek Andravida Airbase yesterday, “will simulate scenarios of air-to-air combat, air superiority and advanced surface-to-air missile threats above enemy territory,” said an official IDF statement.

In at least one past exercise over Greece, Israeli fighter planes practiced against an S-300 posted on Crete. The Russian-made air defense system is deployed in the states of Israel’s regional enemies, Syria and Iran.