Israel and Greece continued to elevate their military relations on Wednesday with Jerusalem delivering two critical M-346 advanced training aircraft at a special event involving top Greek security officials, IDF Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar, top Israeli Defense Ministry officials and officials from Elbit Systems.
Elbit Systems has been contracted by Greece both to provide virtual avionics for the M-346 aircraft as well as to undertake the creation of an International Flight Training Center at 120 ΑΤW Kalamata in Greece.
Those two M-346s, the first batch of what will eventually be 10 such aircraft, will be the backbone of modern training aircraft for the Greek Air Force.
Present at the 120 ATW Kalamata ceremony from the Greek side were Greek Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Greek Chief of the General Staff of the National Defense General Konstantinos Floros, Greek Air Force Chief Lt.-Gen. Themistoklis Bourolias and other top officials.
From the Israeli side in attendance were Bar, the head of SIBAT, the IMoD International Defense Cooperation Directorate, Brig.-Gen. Yair Kulas, Rani Kril, executive vice president international marketing and business development and Yoram Shmuely, general manager of Elbit Systems Aerospace.
What is Israel's Elbit Systems giving Greece?
Elbit Systems’ integrated virtual avionics “simulate combat and flight scenarios in order to bring the training experience of the pilots to the highest level. The M-346 aircraft are expected to fly thousands of hours per year,” said the company’s statement.
Further, the statement said that the M-346, manufactured by Leonardo, “is a twin-engine, tandem-seat aircraft with fully digital flight controls and avionics. It is equipped with a fly-by-wire control system and has an interface with Head-Up Displays. The training system features integrated onboard technology that simulates tactical training and is completed by the Ground Based Training System that optimizes fleet and simulator management. The handling of the M-346 is similar to that of next-generation combat aircraft maximizing the flight training of pilots.”
The joint International Flight Training Center was launched in 2021 and during a recent visit to Greece, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant praised the project, saying that “The International Education Center at the Kalamata airbase is an excellent example” of the growing defense ties between the two countries.
Gallant also discussed other aspects of increased intelligence sharing and security cooperation between Israel and Greece against Iran, following a failed attempt by Iranian terrorists to kill Jews in Greece.
The Israeli Defense Ministry has contracted Elbit Systems for handling several training fleets for the IAF in foreign countries. The total number of aircraft operated by Elbit Systems is now over 170.
Panagiotopoulos said, “The new International Flight Training Center is the result of many efforts by the Greek state, the Ministry of National Defense, in order to achieve the best possible solution for the training of new pilots of the Greek Air Force. The Israeli side and Elbit Systems offered the most adaptable and understandable approach in the field of flight training.
Floros stated, “This project effectively underlines the excellent cooperation between Greece, Israel and Italy, who share the same vision for peace, security and stability, in our common neighborhood, the East Med and beyond.”
Shmuely added, “We are proud to provide the Hellenic Air Force with leading training centers and capabilities. The landing of the first two planes at the International Training Center in Kalamata is a significant milestone for not only Elbit Systems but for the growing strategic relationship between Israel and Greece.”