Israel inks multi-million-dollar deal with Italy for training helicopters
The Defense Ministry announced Thursday it will purchase seven training helicopters from an Italian defense contractor in a multi-billion-dollar deal that will see Rome buy an equivalent value of Israeli military technology, Trend reports referring to The Times of Israel.
Hebrew media reports estimated the deal to be worth $350 million and include 20 years of aircraft maintenance from Italian contractor Leonardo.
The Italian-made AW-119 training helicopters, known in Israel as Sayfan, will replace the Israeli Air Force’s current Bell 206 training aircraft, which it bought in 1970.
The two countries reached a similar reciprocal procurement deal for trainer jets in 2012, when Israel purchased three Aermacchi M-346 jets manufactured by Leonardo for $1 billion. Rome, in exchange, purchased an equivalent value of Israeli aerospace technology, including satellites and surveillance planes.
Reports in Hebrew-language media said that Israeli defense contractor Rafael beat out US defense contractors Bell and Airbus to win the Israeli tender in Thursday’s deal, which was first published in 2011.
The details of Italy’s purchase were not immediately known, but a 2017 report in Israeli business daily Globes said Rome wanted to purchase $70-80 million in anti-tank missiles from Rafael.