JERUSALEM — Israel is to buy advanced combat training jets from an Italian company as part of a defense-offset package deal valued at about $2 billion, the Israeli defense ministry said Feb. 16.
The decision, which must be approved by the Israeli government, will see the Israel Air Force (IAF) buy 30 advanced M-346 combat training jets from Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi in a deal valued at $1 billion. That also includes training.
“In return, the Italian government has agreed to offset purchases from the Israeli defense industries to the tune of $1 billion,” the statement said.
Said Udi Shani, director general of the Israeli defense ministry: “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.
“This offset deal is extremely important due to the current harsh budgetary reality in which the defense establishment is operating.”
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 defense giant Finmeccanica.