Israel, Greece ink massive $1.68B defense deal

TEL AVIV (Agencies): The governments of Israel and Greece are on the way to a massive defense deal after the Israeli Defense Ministry won a tender to build a training base for the Greek Air Force, to be executed by Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd., the Greek government confirmed Tuesday.

Elbit will also operate the base, to be known as the Flight Training Center, for a period of 20 years and deliver training aircraft fleets equipped with its avionics and embedded training solutions.

Elbit will also supply the base with its flight simulators and training aids, as well as ongoing logistical support.

The Greek Air force will also acquire 10 Italian M-346 training aircraft, which the Israeli Air Force also uses to train cadet pilots.

The deal is worth a reported $1.68 billion, and is contingent upon the successful completion of negotiations with the Hellenic Ministry of National Defense.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that the agreement was “an expression of the excellent and developing relations we have with Greece. This is a long-term partnership that will serve the interests of both Greece and Israel.”

“This is a partnership that will promote stability in the Mediterranean region, and create hundreds of jobs in both countries,” Gantz added.

Gantz said he had spoken to his Greek counterpart, Nikos Panayiotopoulos, and expressed his appreciation for Panayiotopoulos’ personal involvement in promoting the deal and bringing it to the Greek government for approval.

Elbit Systems president and CEO Bezhalel Machlis said his company was “honored to have been selected to provide such an important capability to the Hellenic Air Force.”

Machlis said he believed the cooperation would further strengthen the relationship between Israel and Greece, and said that securing the tender was an indication of Elbit’s prominence in training and providing knowledge and tested technologies that “improve readiness while reducing costs.”