Greece Gets Planes, Training and Support in $1.68B Deal with Israel

The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master, military twin-engine transonic trainer aircraft takes part in a flying display at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 12, 2016. / AFP / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty

(UPI) — The Greek Air Force will get a training program and 10 aircraft from Israel in a $1.68 billion contract, Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems announced.

The 20-year contract is the largest defense agreement between Greece and Israel, and includes 10 M-346 training planes made by the European defense contractor Leonardo.

Elbit Systems, based in Haifa, Israel, will construct and maintain a flight school, a maintenance school and simulators, and provide logistics support, in Greece.

The contract is a sign of increased cooperation between the Greek and Israeli governments and defense ministries.

Greece recently began leasing Israeli drones, and the two countries, with Cyprus, agreed on an undersea pipeline to supply Europe with natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

“This agreement reflects the excellent and developing relations we have with Greece,” said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a statement on Tuesday. “It is a long term partnership that will serve the interests of both countries.”

The M-346 is a twin-engine transonic fighter plane employed for training purposes to fly near or at the speed of sound. It is in use by the Polish, Italian, Israeli and Singaporean militaries.

“We are honored to have been selected to provide such an important capability to the Hellenic Air Force, which we believe will contribute to the further strengthening of the bi-lateral relationship between Israel and Greece,” Bezhalel Machlis, CEO of Elbit Systems, said in a statement.

“This selection attests to the leading position we hold in the area of training, providing tested know-how and proven technologies that improve readiness while reducing costs,” Bezhalel said.

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