Israel to buy 30 Italian military training jets
JERUSALEM - The Associated PressIsrael has agreed a $1 billion preliminary deal to buy 30 Italian military training jets, Israeli defense officials said Thursday. The deal will provide a long-awaited upgrade to what is widely viewed as the most advanced air force in the Middle East.
The agreement, which still needs formal government approval, marked the end of a long competition between Italy and South Korea over the lucrative sale.
Israel announced it would buy the M-346, made by the Italian company Alenia Aermacchi and designed for low-cost flights. The aircraft will replace American Skyhawks, which the Israeli Air Force has trained with for 40 years. As early as 2008, the Israeli air force announced it needed to replace the antiquated jets.
Italy will reciprocate the Israeli purchase by buying $1 billion in Israeli defense equipment, Israel’s Defense Ministry added.
The ministry’s director general, Udi Shani, said the offset deal enabled Israel to make the large purchase, despite a “harsh budgetary reality.”