at the International Pilot Training Center at the 120 ATW base in Kalamata, where representatives of the Greek government and the Ministry of Defense, the Greek Air Force, representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the Israeli Air Force andElbit Systems , welcomed the first two M-346 aircraft. This, in a move that Turkey is not expected to accept with joy. These training planes, adapted to the requirements of advanced fighter planes, will carry out the training of the new generation of trainees of the Hellenic Air Force’s pilot academy.
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The ceremony at the 120 ATW base in Kalamata was attended by the Greek Minister of Defense, Nicholas Paniotopoulos, the Deputy Minister of National Defense of Greece, Nikos Shredlias, the Chief of the General Staff of the National Defense, General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force, Major General Themistokles Boroulias, the Chief of Siv T., Director of International Security Cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Lt. Col. Yair Kolas, Commander of the Air Force Col. Tomer Bar, Rani Karil, VP of Marketing and International Business Development of Elbit Systems and Mr. Yoram Shmueli, CEO of Elbit Systems Also present was Israel’s ambassador to Greece, Noam Katz, as well as representatives of the Greek air forces and representatives of the region and the local government from Kalamata and the district of Messinia.
Two planes out of 10 to be delivered to the Greeks
The two M-346 aircraft are the first of a fleet of ten aircraft expected to be delivered by Elbit Systems as part of an agreement between the Greek and Israeli defense ministries to establish an international flight training center at the 120 ATW base in Kalamata. The planes are equipped with advanced avionics that include Elbit Systems training technologies that simulate combat and flight scenarios in order to bring the pilots’ training experience to the highest level. The fleet of M-346 aircraft is expected to fly thousands of hours a year.
The M-346 aircraft, manufactured by the Leonardo company, is a twin-engine trainer aircraft with fully digital flight controls and advanced avionics.
Elbit’s advanced training systems that will be provided as part of the project include integrated technology in the cockpit that simulates tactical training as well as ground training systems that allow practicing flight scenarios, operating systems and more in a safe training environment while saving flight hours.
Since the launch of the International Training Center in 2021, the project is ahead of schedule, with the progress achieved being praised by both the Greek and Israeli Defense Ministries. During his recent visit to Greece, Defense Minister Yoav Galant praised the project and said that “the international training center at the Kalamata base is an excellent example of the strengthening defense ties between the two countries.”
The Greek International Training Center was opened as part of an intergovernmental agreement totaling approximately $1.6 billion with the Greek Ministry of National Defense in 2021.
As part of this agreement, Elbit Systems will provide comprehensive air and ground training for pilots, including fifth generation flight simulators, training aircraft, maintenance and support over a period of 22 years.
The T-6 fleet now enjoys full 100% logistical availability supported by the Elbit Logistics Center established at the air force base and providing ongoing technical support. On top of that, the construction of the first training building was completed and these days Elbit’s advanced flight trainers (simulators) are being installed, as well as control and air control systems.
Elbit Systems operates more than 170 aircraft worldwide
The project is based on the extensive experience gained by the company from various programs around the world. Elbit provides the Israeli Ministry of Defense with a number of training centers for the Israeli Air Force – including Grove G120, Bell 206 and AW119 helicopters, a fleet of T-6A training aircraft and a fleet of advanced M-346 training aircraft.
Also, the Israeli Ministry of Internal Security recently renewed an agreement for the supply, operation and maintenance of the “Elad” firefighting squadron, the Israeli aerial firefighting unit. In 2016, Affinity, a joint venture of Elbit Systems, contracted for the purchase, operation and maintenance of the Phenom 100, Beechcraft T-6 and GROB G-120TP fleets of the British Training Center of the Royal Air Force.
These bring the total number of aircraft operated by Elbit Systems to more than 170.
The Minister of National Defense of Greece, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, said: “The new international flight training center is the result of intensive efforts by the Ministry of National Defense of Greece, with the aim of achieving the best solution, for training new pilots of the Greek Air Force. Israel and Elbit Systems presented the best adapted solution in the field of flight training. Our ambition is for the center to provide basic, advanced and operational training to all pilots over a period of 22 years using T-6 and M-346 aircraft. We see the establishment of the center as bringing value and international prestige to the Greek Air Force as it is The largest agreement and a significant strategic project in the field of security cooperation between Greece and Israel to date.”
The Chief of the General Staff of the National Defense, General Constantinos Floros, stated: “The International Flight Training Center at 120 ATW Kalamata will enable our pilots, those of our allies, partners and friends to simulate flight and combat training that will advance them in a ‘smooth transition’ to the operational phase. This project emphasizes In fact, the excellent cooperation between Greece, Israel and Italy, who share the same vision for peace, security and stability, in the common environment in the Middle East and beyond. This is the type of multilateral cooperation we wish to promote, which presents the mutual benefits we want to achieve not only for our countries , our allies, partners and friends, but also for the entire region. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who worked to achieve this important milestone and express optimism about the future joint training of our Air Force.”
The head of the General Air Staff, Lieutenant General Themistocles Boroulias said: “In the new era, when the need for air training at the highest level is on the rise all over the world, the foundation and establishment of the International Flight Training Center will provide the Greek Air Force with enormous potential, and strengthen its role in the international military aviation arena.
“The center will place the Greek airman at the top of military aviation and in the world of advanced training. The new training aircraft we welcome and the International Flight Training Center in Kalamata are an important step in entering the future of air training, which is the basis for the functioning and efficiency of the Greek Air Force. We aim to provide our pilots, in the air And on the ground, advanced training, expertise and professionalism through the training systems and simulators of modern aircraft, while ensuring a ‘smooth transition’ to the next generation of aircraft.”
The head of SBT, the director of international security cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Lt. Col. Yair Kolas: “We thank our colleagues at the Greek Ministry of National Defense for the ongoing security and industrial cooperation and their trust in the Israeli defense industries. This day is an important milestone for the international training center, and we are proud to take part in this event together with our close partners.”
Yoram Shmueli, CEO of Elbit Aircraft Systems: “We are proud to lead a significant project, of this magnitude, to provide the Greek Air Force with training centers and leading pilot capabilities. The landing of the first two planes at the international training center in Kalamata is a significant milestone for Elbit Systems, and contributes to the relationship between Israel and Greece.”