After the Israeli Defense Ministry won a tender launched by the Hellenic Ministry of National Defense, the governments of both countries signed a $1.68 billion deal in which the Israeli company Elbit Systems will build and operate a training base on behalf of the Greek Air Force. The facility will be created in Kalamata, at the southernmost point of continental Greece.
As part of the contract, Greece will also acquire simulators, as well as 10 Leonardo M-346 training aircraft, which the Israeli Air Force also uses to train cadet pilots. They will replace the aging fleet of T-2 Buckeye trainers, whose design dates back to the end of the 1950s.
The harmonization of training between the two nations seems logical as their air forces use the F-16 Fighting Falcon as the backbone of their fighter fleet. Additionally, they could both operate the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter. Already in service in Israel, the fifth-generation jet could be acquired by Greece in the future.
It is the largest defense deal between the two countries to date. “This agreement reflects the excellent and developing relations we have with Greece,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement. “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.”
In May 2020, Greece signed an agreement for the leasing of two MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) Heron I drones from the Israeli manufacturer IAI, configured for maritime surveillance missions.