Greece has officially welcomed the first two of an eventual 10 Leonardo M-346 jet trainers it is procuring through a deal with the Israeli government.
The delivery was marked with a special event held at the Hellenic Air Force’s Kalamata air base – the home to a new Elbit Systems-run International Flight Training Centre (IFTC).
Launched in 2021, the facility is designed to modernise the air force’s training as it transitions to a new fighter fleet centred on the Dassault Aviation Rafale.
Athens is acquiring the M-346s via a government-to-government agreement with Israel, which also operates the Italian-built twin-engined trainer where it is known as the ‘Lavi’.
Greece currently performs advanced pilot training with a fleet of 40 elderly North American T-2C/E Buckeyes.
Elbit was appointed in 2021 to run the IFTC, which includes the maintenance of the Hellenic Air Force’s fleet of Beechcraft T-6A turboprop trainers.
A first training building at the Kalamata site – home to the air force’s 120 Air Training Wing – has been completed, with the installation of flight simulators and other training systems expected by the end of June.
“Our ambition is that the International Flight Training Centre will provide basic, advanced and operational flight training to all airmen and over a period of 22 years using T-6 and M-346 aircraft,” says Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Greek defence minister.
Greece will also offer training at the site to partner nations. The Italian air force operates a similar international training facility, also using the M-346 and M-345, from its Decimomannu base in Sardinia.