Greece, Israel agree on International Flight Training Center at Kalamata

International Flight Training Center Kalamata
Israeli Air Force M-346 'Lavi' advanced trainer jet. The M-346 will be the backbone of the new International Flight Training Center at Kalamata, Greece.

According to several local sources, Greece and Israel have finalized the agreement to open a new international flight training school in Kalamata, Greece. For Blog Before Flight followers this is no surprise as we had already posted about it last July.

After 5 months of negotiations, Athens chose the proposal of the Israeli firm Elbit Systems over that of the Canadian CAE. The deal worth 1,365 billion euros for 22 years was submitted to the relevant parliamentary committee by Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos on December 21.

The structure of the International Flight Training Center at Kalamata is very similar to that of the International Flight Training School established by Leonardo-Italian Air Force. It will host students from all over the world to cover the most advanced phase of pilot training, the LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Training). Training will be provided by 10 advanced M-346 aircraft and modern flight simulators.

This center will also give a shot in the arm to the Hellenic Air Force which in recent years has struggled to train its fighter pilots due to current obsolete systems such as the T-2E Buckeye jets.

Greece has chosen Elbit for several reasons, first of all this agreement will strengthen the strategic collaboration between the Hellenic Air Force and the Israeli Air Force (Israel has always sided in favor of the Greeks in their fight against Turkey). Furthermore, the Israeli proposal is the cheapest as well as being guaranteed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense and by a company (Elbit) with many years of experience in the field of training. Elbit currently manages the Israeli Air Force flight training centers, including the fleet of 20 T-6 ​​Texan II turboprops and 30 M-346 "Lavi" jets.

The signing of the intergovernmental agreement between the two nations is expected in early 2021.

The establishment of a modern flight school has now become a priority for Athens in order to provide high-standard training for future pilots for Hellenic Air Force's Rafale and F-35 fighters.

Greece has a long tradition of training military pilots at home, which is probably the reason why it has not considered sending its students to ready-made international flight training schools.

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Written by Matteo Sanzani