Israel and Greece officially sign record $1.65 billion defence deal

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Israel and Greece have signed their biggest ever defence procurement deal, which Israel said on Sunday would strengthen political and economic ties between the countries. The two countries’ air forces also launched a joint exercise.

The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training centre for the Hellenic Air Force by Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period, Israel’s defence ministry said.

The training centre will be modelled on Israel’s own flight academy and will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italy’s Leonardo, the ministry said.

READ MORE: Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the UAE, meet to shake narrative of Middle East.

Elbit will supply kits to upgrade and operate Greece’s T-6 aircraft and also provide training, simulators and logistical support.

“I am certain that (this programme) will upgrade the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece and thus the partnership between our two countries will deepen on the defence, economic and political levels,” said Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

READ MORE: Israel, Greece, Cyprus hold naval drill as they deepen ties.

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

The announcement follows a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the UAE, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli foreign ministers.

It is also a direct follow up of a security agreement reached by Greece and Israel in January to establish a flight training center and provide training aircraft to the Hellenic Air Force.   

The Israeli and Greek air forces on Sunday launched a joint exercise in Greece, the Israeli military said.

In at least one past exercise over Greece, Israeli fighter planes practised against an S-300 posted on Crete. The Russian-made air defence system is also deployed in Syria and Iran, Israel’s foes.

A source in the Hellenic National Defence Command said the S-300 had not been activated in the joint exercise that began Sunday.

Source: Reuters.

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