Israel buying trainer jets from Italy
Jerusalem - Israel is to buy advanced combat training jets from an Italian company as part of a defence-offset package deal valued at around $2bn, the defence ministry said on Thursday.
The decision, which must be approved by the Israeli government, will see the the Israel Air Force (IAF) buying 30 advanced M-346 combat training jets from Italy's Alenia Aermacchi in a deal valued at $1bn, which will also include training.
"In return, the Italian government has agreed to offset purchases from the Israeli defence industries to the tune of $1 billion," the statement said.
"This huge deal with the Italian government will enable us to replace the Skyhawk jets which have served the training apparatus of the IAF for 40 years," said Udi Shani, director general of the defence ministry.
"This offset deal is extremely important due to the current harsh budgetary reality in which the defence establishment is operating," the statement quoted him as saying.
Italy had been competing with South Korea to secure the lucrative deal, but the ministry found that the Italian offer was "preferable in terms of the IAF's needs and requirements," it said.
Alenia Aermacchi is a subsidiary of the Italian aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica.