Italy emerges as IAI's secret customer for two spy planes

Israel sell spy planes Italy
Italian Air Force Gulfstream G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced in late July that it had entered into an agreement with an undisclosed customer for the sale of Special Mission Aircraft. The company had said that "The Special Mission Aircraft, which are developed by IAI and will be supplied to a NATO member country, are used to detect, alert, and collect strategic intelligence information."

Israeli media outlet Haaretz recently identified Italy as the "secret" customer, referring to documents published by the Italian Ministry of Defense and Parliament. According to the local daily, the agreement includes two early warning spy planes as well as support and ground logistics services for a total amount of USD 550 million.

"The special mission aircraft developed by IAI-ELTA provide our customers with significant advantage and constitute a strategic asset. We are thrilled to win this contract to provide a NATO member country with our advanced technologies. IAI-ELTA continues to achieve major breakthroughs in Special Mission Aircraft capabilities due to ongoing investments in advanced AESA radar technology coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. Our ongoing commitment to provide cutting-edge technologies to our customers, with advanced detection and classification capabilities, will enable success even in the most complicated missions," Yoav Tourgeman, IAI VP and ELTA CEO, said in July.

The new aircraft will join the Italian Air Force's fleet of two Gulfstream G550 CAEWs that Italy bought from Israel in 2012 and received between 2016 and 2018.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Italian Air Force

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