The agreement was signed via teleconference on Tuesday due to COVID-19 restrictions by the Director-General of Israel’s MoD, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel, and his Italian counterpart, National Armaments Director Nicolò Falsaperna.
The agreement is the final step in a broader deal concluded by the two countries in February 2019, and which covered Israel’s purchase of 12 AW119 training helicopters and two simulators to replace the Bell 206s in service with the Israeli Air Force’s Flight School since the 1970s. The first seven helicopters were ordered at the time, and the final five were ordered on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, D.G. of IMoD, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel, and his Italian counterpart, National Armaments Director, Nicolò Falsaperna, signed a reciprocal procurement agreement, which completes the exchange between Israel and Italy that began in February 2019. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/SFoM3tOnqP— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) September 23, 2020
Defense Minister Benny Gantz welcomed the agreement, stating that it “reflects our close and important cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Defense over the years,” the Italian website Ares Difesa reported. “The completion of this agreement is essential for the training of IAF helicopter pilots and for the development of the Israeli economy. It also reflects the great importance of defense industries for both Israel's security and its economy."
In exchange, Italy is buying additional batches of Spike anti-tank missiles produced by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Systems, as well as simulators for Italian Army helicopters to be jointly developed by Italy’s Leonardo and Israel’s Elbit Systems.