Photo Credit: IMoD
An Italian-made AW119KX training helicopter in the IAF's service.

Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Defense, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel, and his Italian counterpart, National Armaments Director Nicolò Falsaperna, signed on Tuesday a reciprocal procurement agreement, which completes the exchange between Israel and Italy that began in February 2019.

Within the framework of the agreement, the Israel Ministry of Defense will purchase five advanced training helicopters from Italy, increasing the Air Force’s training fleet to 12 aircraft. The Italian Ministry of Defense will purchase Rafael spike missiles and Elbit Systems simulators in exchange.

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The signing ceremony took place simultaneously in the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv and in Rome and was screened via secure video conference.

The reciprocal procurement agreement constitutes purchases on both sides. The Israel Ministry of Defense will purchase a ‘training package’ from Italian defense contractor Leonardo. The package 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 were agreed upon during the signing.

The new aircraft will gradually replace the “Sayfan” (Bell 206) helicopters, which have been in service since the 1970s.

The Italian Ministry of Defense will purchase Spike launchers and missiles from Rafael and advanced simulators for a number of helicopter models in the Italian military, from a company established in partnership between Leonardo and Elbit Systems.

This is a continuation of the 2011 agreement signed between the Israeli and Italian governments, in which the Israeli Ministry of Defense purchased 30 training aircraft in exchange for the purchase of an observation satellite and two airborne early warning systems.

MoD Director-General Eshel stated that the agreement “is another expression of the close security and economic relations between Israel and Italy.”

“It enables the IDF to complete the replacement of the old training aircraft in the IAF. In addition, the reciprocal procurement agreement which includes the purchase [of systems] from Israeli defense industries, positively affects Israel’s exports and economy,” he added.

Israel Defense Minister, Benny Gantz welcomed the completion of the agreement, which “reflects our close and important cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Defense over the years.”

“The completion of this agreement is essential for the training of IAF helicopter pilots and for the development of Israel’s economy. It also reflects the great importance of defense industries both for Israel’s security and its economy,” he said.

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