Israel and Italy finalize arms deal

Jerusalem to purchase advanced training helicopters, Rome to purchase spike missiles and simulators.

AW119Kx helicopter, illustrative (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/DAVEANDY1)
AW119Kx helicopter, illustrative
Israel and Italy have completed a reciprocal procurement agreement which will see Israel’s Defense Ministry purchase five advanced training helicopters and the Italians purchasing Rafael spike missiles and Elbit Systems simulators in exchange.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday by the director-general of the Israel Defense Ministry, Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel, and his Italian counterpart, National Armaments Director Nicolò Falsaperna, in a signing ceremony that took place simultaneously in the defense headquarters of each country, one in Tel Aviv and the other in Rome, and screened via secure video conference.
“The agreement signed yesterday is another expression of the close security and economic relations between Israel and Italy,” Eshel said. “It enables the IDF to complete the replacement of the old training aircraft in the IAF. In addition, the reciprocal procurement agreement, which includes the purchase [of systems] from Israeli defense industries, positively affects Israel’s exports and economy.”
The Defense Ministry team attending the ceremony included Production and Procurement head Avi Dadon, International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT) head Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Yair Kulas, Finance Department head Victor Weiss and additional senior officials.
The agreement completes the exchange between Israel and Italy that began in February 2019 which sees purchases by both countries.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz welcomed the completion of the agreement, saying that it “reflects our close and important cooperation with the Italian Defense Ministry over the years. The completion of this agreement is essential for the training of IAF helicopter pilots and for the development of Israel’s economy. It also reflects the great importance of defense industries both for Israel’s security and its economy.”
The Defense Ministry will purchase a “training package” from Italian defense contractor Leonardo that includes 12 AW119KX training helicopters and two simulators for the Air Force Flight School.
The first seven helicopters were purchased a year ago, and an additional five were agreed upon today. The new aircraft will gradually replace the “Sayfan” (Bell 206) helicopters, which have been in service since the 1970s.
The Italian Ministry of Defense will purchase Spike launchers and missiles from Rafael and advanced simulators for a number of helicopter models in the Italian military, in a partnership between Leonardo and Elbit Systems.
The agreement is a continuation of another deal signed between the two countries in 2011, which saw Israel purchase 30 training aircraft in exchange for the purchase of an observation satellite and two airborne early warning systems.