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Israel, Italy Ink Defense Trade Deal

September 25, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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The new Italian helicopters will be used by the Israeli Air Force for training (illustrative).

Friday, 25 September 2020 | Israel and Italy signed an agreement on Wednesday to swap military weaponry, providing Israel with updated training helicopters and Italy with anti-tank guided missiles and aircraft simulators, a statement from Israel’s Defense Ministry announced.

The Defense Ministry will acquire five additional training helicopters—adding to the seven it already purchased earlier on in the deal—and two simulators for Israeli Air Force (IAF) training. The updated helicopters are replacing Israel’s current Bell 206 helicopters from the 1970s.

In exchange, Italy is purchasing Spike anti-tank launchers and missiles and advanced simulators for helicopters.

The trade deal, which negotiations began for in February 2019, was finalized in a virtual signing ceremony on Wednesday, signed by Israel’s Defense Ministry director–general, Maj.–Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel and Italian National Armaments Director Nicolò Falsaperna.

“The agreement signed yesterday is another expression of the close security and economic relations between Israel and Italy,” Eshel said. “It enables the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] 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.”

This upgrade for the IDF comes as Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is returning from a trip to Washington to meet with his counterparts to negotiate a military shopping list ensuring Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East.

As part of the US-brokered peace deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, reports say the US will sell advanced F-35 fighter jets to the UAE—potentially jeopardizing Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the region. The US Congress committed to ensuring the Jewish state’s military superiority in the region, and Gantz traveled to Washington to wheel and deal to maintain the status quo.

Gantz said the finalized agreement with Italy “reflects our close and important cooperation with the Italian Defense Ministry 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.”

Posted on September 25, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 25, 2020)

Photo Credit: Free-Photos/pixabay.com