© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz wears a face mask as he looks out the window of a helicopter during a tour of the border area with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel and Greece signed their largest ever defense procurement agreement, which Israel announced on Sunday, to strengthen political and economic ties between the countries, and the two countries' air forces have launched a joint exercise.
The agreement includes a $ 1.65 billion contract for the Israeli defense company Elbit Systems (NASDAQ 🙂 to set up and operate a training center for the Greek Air Force for a period of 22 years, the Israel Defense Ministry said.
The training center will be modeled after the Israeli flight academy and be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft from the Italian company Leonardo, the ministry said.
Elbit will supply kits to upgrade and operate the Greek T-6 aircraft, as well as provide training, simulators and logistical support.
"I am certain that (this program) will improve the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece, and that the defense, economic and political partnership between our two countries will deepen," said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
The announcement follows a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Cyprus and Israel, who agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries.
The Israeli and Greek Air Forces launched a joint exercise in Greece, the Israeli military said.
In at least one previous exercise over Greece, Israeli fighter jets practiced against an S-300 stationed in Crete. The air defense system made in Russia is also used in Syria and Iran, the enemies of Israel. An Israeli military spokesman did not immediately respond to a Reuters query as to whether the Air Force had trained again against the Greek S-300 in the previous exercise.
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