Kalamata | Ceremony for the arrival of first M-346s at the International Flight Training Center
Defence Redefined
Published on 18/05/2023 at 11:31

The first two new M-346 training aircraft were welcomed by representatives of the Greek Government and the Ministry of Defence, the Hellenic Air Force, and representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Defence.

Specifically, in a special event held at the International Flight Training Center at the 120th Air Training Wing of Kalamata, representatives of the Greek Government and the Ministry of Defence, the Hellenic Air Force as well as representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, the Israeli Air Force, and Elbit Systems welcomed the modern training aircraft, which will undertake the training and familiarization of the new generation of pilots of the Hellenic Air Force in the requirements of modern fighter aircraft.

The 120th Air Training Wing was attended by the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikos Panagiotopoulos, the Deputy Minister of National Defence of Greece, Mr. Nikos Hardalias, the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff, Vice Admiral Themistokles Bourolias, the General Director of Defence Investments and Armaments, Vice-Admiral (ret.) Aristides Alexopoulos, the head of the Directorate of International Defence Cooperation (SIBAT) of the Ministry of Defence of Israel, Brigadier (ret.) Yair Kulas, Chief of the Israeli Air Force, Major General Tomer Bar, Mr. Ran Kril, Executive Vice President, International Marketing & Business Development, and Mr. Yoram Shmuely, General Manager on behalf of the Aerospace sector of Elbit Systems.

The Ambassador of Israel to Greece, Mr. Noam Katz, the Ambassador of Italy to Greece, Ms. Patrizia Falcinelli, as well as representatives of the Hellenic Air Force, representatives of the Italian manufacturer of the M-346 “Leonardo” and representatives of the Region and the Local Government from Kalamata and the wider area of ​​Messinia were also attended the event.

Also read: Kalamata | Inauguration of the Hellenic International Flight Training Center – Photos & VIDEO

The two M-346s are the first of 10 aircraft expected under the intergovernmental agreement between the Hellenic and Israeli Defence Ministries, with Elbit Systems undertaking the creation of an International Flight Training Center at the 120th Air Training Wing in Kalamata. These aircraft are equipped with Elbit Systems’ integrated virtual avionics that simulate combat and flight scenarios in order to provide a high-level training experience to the pilots, since they are going to log thousands of flight hours per year.

Built by the Italian Leonardo company, the M-346 is a two-seater twin-engine aircraft, which has fully digital control and flight systems. In addition, it is equipped with a fly-by-wire control system and its Interface has Head-Up Displays (HUD). The training systems include onboard technology that simulates tactical training and is complemented by the ground training system, which optimizes the management of both the fleet and the simulator.

The handling of the M-346 is similar to that of next-generation fighter jets, thus aiming to maximize pilot flight training.

Also read: The agreement with Israeli SIBAT for Air Force’s training with ELBIT Systems was signed at the General Directorate for Defence Investments and Armaments (GDDIA) 

Since the launch of the International Flight Training Center in 2021, the project is ahead of schedule, while the progress achieved has been praised by the Defence Ministries of Greece and Israel. In a recent visit to Greece, the Minister of Defence of Israel, Mr. Yoav Gallant, praised the project, stressing that the International Training Center at Kalamata Air Base is an excellent example of the growing defence ties between the two countries.

Most of the T-6 fleet is already operational, and at the same time, a key addition is the Logistics Center established at the airbase to provide ongoing technical support for the T-6 trainers. In addition, the first training building has been completed and within the first half of 2023, the advanced flight simulators, as well as ground and fleet control and communication systems are expected to be installed.

It is worth noting that Elbit Systems has extensive experience in specific Air Force pilot training programs, undertaking major projects around the world and at various levels. In addition, the Israeli Ministry of Defence has awarded Elbit Systems with the management of two additional training fleets for the Israeli Air Force (IAF): the basic T-6 Texan training fleet and the M-346 advanced training fleet.

Israel’s Ministry of Public Security has also awarded Elbit Systems the delivery, operation, and maintenance of Israel’s Air Tractor aerial firefighting fleet. In 2016 Affinity, an Elbit Systems JV, was contracted to supply, operate and maintain the Phenom 100, Beechcraft T-6, and GROB G-120TP fleets for the UK Royal Air Force. Through these projects, Elbit Systems operates a total of more than 170 aircraft worldwide.

Also read: Greece – Israel | Historic agreement – Establishment of a HAF flight center and acquisition of 10 M-346 aircraft




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