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Israel is to purchase five advanced training helicopters from Italy, increasing the Air Force’s training fleet to 12 aircraft and in return, Italy will purchase Rafael SPIKE missiles and Elbit Systems simulators. Last week’s signing ceremony took place simultaneously in the defence headquarters of each country and screened via secure video conference, a process which completes the exchange between Israel and Italy that began in February 2019.

The training package Israel will buy from Leonardo 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 have now been agreed on. The new aircraft will gradually replace the SAYFAN (Bell 206) helicopters, which have been in service since the 1970s. Under a partnership between Leonardo and Elbit Systems, Italy will purchase SPIKE launchers and missiles from Rafael and advanced simulators for a number of helicopter models in the Italian military. This is a continuation of the 2011 agreement signed between the Israeli and Italian governments, in which the Israeli Ministry of Defence purchased 30 M-346 training aircraft in exchange for the purchase of an observation satellite and two airborne early warning systems.

Arie Egozi