JERUSALEM – The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced a reciprocal procurement agreement with the Italian defense ministry that would see Israel acquire 12 training helicopters and Italy to receive Rafael Advanced Defense Systems “Spike” missiles and an Elbit Systems simulator.
The agreement is based on a 2011 deal between Israel and Italy in which Israel purchased 30 trainers and Italy bought Israeli observation satellites and two airborne early warning systems. This week’s signing of the deal completes the exchanges that began in February 2019, the Israeli Defense Ministry said.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is in the United States this week for a meeting with his US counterparts, praised the new pact.
“Completion of this agreement is important for the training of IAF helicopter pilots and for Israel’s economic development. It also reflects the importance of the defense industry for both Israel’s security and its economy, ”said Gantz.
Israel’s MOD did not provide a figure for the agreement and neither Rafael nor Elbit would comment on the specifics of the deal. This is in line with Israeli defense companies which usually do not comment on specific dollar amounts of their sales. The deal comes as Israel enters its second lockdown for Covid-19. The pandemic has made face-to-face meetings with companies and defense officials rare.
According to the European Defense Review, in January the Italian army plans to acquire 126 Spike anti-tank missiles which they will deliver by 2021. The Spike missile family is used by 33 countries, some of them in Europe. These are often marketed in Europe via Germany-based Eurospike. Recently Rafael has offered the Spike NLOS as part of the Polish tank destroyer program, and Slovakia has been acquired Spike LR 2. Procurement of Spike missiles in Italy includes launchers and missiles.
The head of Italy’s defense acquisition Lieutenant General Nicola Falsaperna signed an agreement with his Israeli counterpart Amir Eshel on September 22. “The agreement… is another expression of the close security and economic ties between Israel and Italy. This allowed the IDF to complete the replacement of the old training aircraft at the IAF. In addition, reciprocal procurement agreements, which include purchases [of systems] of the Israeli defense industry, positively affecting Israeli exports and the economy, ”said Eshel.
Israel will receive August 12 Westland 119KX trainer helicopters produced by Leonardo and two simulators for the Israeli air force flight school. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, the first seven helicopters have already been purchased, and this week’s deal is for five more. The new aircraft will replace the Bell 206 helicopters that Israel has used since the 1970s.
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