Greece and Israel are close to reaching an agreement on the establishment of an International Flight Training Centre in Kalamata, following a visit by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Jerusalem last week, Kathimerini reported.
The cost of this project is estimated to be about 1.4 billion euros over 20 years.
The relations between the Greek and Israeli air force is already very close and is perhaps the most powerful pillar of the strategic relationship in the field of defence, as they are two of the best air forces in the world, based on measurable data from training, exercises and performance in all areas.
The pilots will be trained in the integrated system of the new training jet. Details of this have not yet been clarified, but the Italian M-346 (Alenia Aermacchi) will probably be replaced by the T-2 Buckeye, which has been reliable for five decades.
Essentially, the proposal of the Israeli company includes the following three dimensions:
- First, the creation of an international training flight centre in Kalamata. It will be possible for airlines from other parts of the wider geographical area to be trained in Greece. In practice, such a training centre will also compete with Italy, where such services are already offered, such as at the Lecce Air Training Center.
- Secondly, the company that will provide this service to the trained pilots of the UAE, as well as other possible air forces in the world, with the aim of making Kalamata an international training centre. The comparative advantages of Kalamata include the good climatic conditions, but also it is away from the main airports of Greece, which makes it quite isolated for training flights.
- Third, it is proposed to upgrade the availability of training helicopters.
The visit of Mitsotakis to Israel, as well as the meetings that the Minister of National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos had in Jerusalem, showed the enormous possibilities that exist for cooperation in the field of defence and security.
The files for the International Flight Training Center in Kalamata are in the hands of Panagiotopoulos, as well as a number of other cases, such as development of Greek UAV's with Israeli know-how.