Greece, in partnership with Israel, opened a flight school on Friday in the southern city of Kalamata that will train pilots in combat and other missions.
Israeli defense contractor Elbit, which finalized a $1.65 billion deal with Greece’s government assisted by Israel last year will help run the facility located on an air force base.
The new training center began operating on Friday with fourteen of an expected twenty-five T-6 single-engine turboprop aircraft.
The fleet is set to expand next year with the delivery of nineteen Italian-built M-346 training jets equipped with embedded virtual avionics that simulate combat and flight scenarios.
Flight school “reflects strong bonds between Greece and Israel”
Major Gen. Georgios Vagenas, commander of the Greek Air Force Training Command, said the T-6 aircraft would provide seven thousand flight training hours annually while the M-346 jets would provide 3,500 hours.
“These facilities will prepare fighter squadrons for the generation of fighter aircraft that the air force recently acquired,” Vagenas said. “It will be the main mechanism to counter threats…coming from our neighbor to the east.”
Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Gantz, ascertained Greece and Israel’s joint desire to proceed together with the strengthening and deepening of their defense cooperation in a phone conversation on Friday.
Panagiotopoulos and Gantz underlined the importance of the implementation of the International Flight Training Centre in Kalamata, as it strengthens the strategic relationship between Greece and Israel.
Benny Gantz hailed the opening of the center in Kalamata saying “it is a project that reflects the deep and strong bond between our countries and defense facilities.”
He said it is “a bond based on shared values and interests, as well as many years of cooperation that has a great impact on the Eastern Mediterranean region. It is a strategic investment in the future capabilities of our friends, which will further promote Greek ties with Israel and international partners.”
Greece and Israel have developed strong defense ties recently. The respective air forces often participate in joint exercises over the Eastern Mediterranean.
The latest joint exercise was held in July in Israel. Greek and Israeli jet fighters took part in advanced air battles and refueling Greek fighter jets among other maneuvers, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Original article: Here