The IAF has procured a new aircraft for training purposes and its official unveiling took place Thursday at the production plant in Italy, as the first completed aircraft rolled off the assembly line. The announcement was made in a statement by the Israeli Department of Defense.
The Ministry of Defense's head of procurement, Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zucker was on hand at the plant in Varese, Italy for the event as was Aermacchi CEO Giordo Giuseppe.
The Italian aerospace company specializes in the production of civilian and military training aircraft with it's original factory still in Varese, Italy.
The IAF has ordered 30 such aircraft and signed a deal
with Aermacchi 2 years ago. With the production of the first "Lavi", the factory is expected to roll out an average of one and a half aircraft every month, all of which will be delivered to Israel over the next two years.
The Lavi will replace the IAF's current training plane, the "Skyhawk" or "Ayid" in Hebrew, which has been used to train Israel's Air Force pilots for the last 40 years. The "Skyhawk" was the first fighter jet that the United States sold to Israel and arrived in Israel after the Six Day War. It was used in the Yom Kippur war and later phased out of operational functions and served as the IAF's advanced craft for training cadets.
Head of procurement Shmuel Zucker stated that the new plane "will advance Israel's future pilots to a new level, training them for the next generation of aircraft in the Air Force."
According to the statement by the Department of Defense, Israel is working to expedite the delivery of the new aircraft in order to incorporate them into pilot training curriculum as soon as possible.
The procurement of the training-craft was part of a huge deal signed in July 2012 by the Israeli and Italian governments. As part of the contract, Italy has committed to purchasing just over $1billion of military platforms from Israeli defense companies, including satellites and airborne warning and control systems.
The deal originally led to a crisis with South Korea which had pushed hard to win the deal and sell Israel advanced training aircraft.