Co-operation between the air forces of Israel and Italy is getting tighter.
A few months ahead of the arrival of the new Aermacchi M-346 advanced trainer in Israel – and while its pilots are training on the new aircraft in Italy – Lt Gen Gabriele Salvestroni, the Italian head of materiel directorate, came for a special visit to Israel.
“The purpose of my visit is to become more familiar with the IAF [Israel Air Force], which we see as one of the world’s most advanced forces,” explained Lt Gen Salvestroni in an interview with the IAF website.
Brig Gen Ran Bashevitz, the IAF’s head of materiel directorate, visited the Tel-Nof airbase with his Italian counterpart, where they toured the squadrons and met with the aerial maintenance units.
This visit was another step in the very clear effort to tighten co-operation between the two airforces.
In addition to the joint exercises and visits, the defense industries of both countries are sharing knowledge and acquiring new capabilities and platforms.
“We appreciate the co-operation of our forces and consider the IAF a strong partner,” Lt Gen Salvestroni says. “The joint activity is highly important and the benefit is mutual. The Aermacchi M-346 trainer is a new addition for us, too, and it is a joint challenge to discover its new capabilities.
“In addition, this is a great opportunity for the different industries to work together. The Italian industry has high-performance aircraft, while the Israeli industry is a leader in the field of high-tech systems. This new aircraft, alongside other future platforms, is the way we combine those worlds.”
The selection of the M-346 was a deviation from Israel’s policy of buying only American-made aircraft for the IAF. Israeli sources say that the close co-operation between the airforces of Israel and Italy is part of a larger trend to strengthen co-operation between the IAF and airforces in Europe.