A special event was held at the International Pilot Training Center at 120 ATW Kalamata, where representatives of the Greek Government and the Ministry of Defense, the Hellenic Air Force, as well as representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the Israeli Air Force and Elbit Systems, welcomed the two first M-346, the modern training aircraft that will undertake the training and familiarization of the Air Force’s new generation of Icari to the requirements of modern fighter jets.
The two M–346s are the first of 10 aircrafts expected under the Government-to-Government agreement between the Hellenic and Israeli Defense Ministries, with Elbit Systems undertaking the creation of an International Flight Training Center at 120 ΑΤW Kalamata. The aircraft are equipped with Elbit Systems’ integrated virtual avionics that simulate combat and flight scenarios in order to bring the training experience of the pilots to the highest level. The M-346 aircraft are expected to fly thousands of hours per year.
The Minister of Defense, Nikos Panagiotopoulos said: “The new International Flight Training Center is the result of many efforts by the Greek State, the Ministry of National Defense, in order to achieve the best possible solution for the training of new pilots of the Greek Air Force. The Israeli side and Elbit Systems offered the most adaptable and understandable approach in the field of flight training. Our ambition is that the International Flight Training Center will provide basic, advanced and operational flight training to all airmen and over a period of 22 years using T-6 and M-346 aircraft. The most important thing is that this will bring revenue to the Greek Air Force and international prestige to the training center since the International Flight Training Center is indeed the biggest agreement and the most strategic project in the field of defense cooperation between Greece and Israel to date.”
Manufactured by Leonardo, the M-346 is a twin-engine, tandem-seat aircraft with fully digital flight controls and avionics. It is equipped with a fly-by-wire control system and has an interface with Head-Up Displays (HUD). The training systems features integrated on-board technology that simulates tactical training and is completed by the Ground Based Training System that optimizes fleet and simulator management. The handling of the M-346 is similar to that of next-generation combat aircraft maximizing the flight training of pilots.
Since the launch of the International Flight Training Center in 2021, the project is ahead of schedule, with the progress achieved praised by both the Defense Ministries of Greece and Israel.
The fleet of T-6 aircraft now benefit from 100% logistic availability supported by the Logistics Center established at the airbase to provide ongoing technical support. In addition, the first training building has been completed and within the first half of 2023, the advanced flight simulators as well as ground and fleet control and communication systems are expected to be installed.
The work has been based on the extensive experience that the company has gathered from various programs around the world. The Israeli Ministry of Defense has contracted Elbit Systems for handling several training fleets for the IAF – including the Grob G120, the Bell 206, AW119 helicopters, the Texan T-6A basic trainer fleet and the M-346 advanced jet trainer fleet; the Israeli Ministry of Public Security also contracted the Company for the delivery, operation and maintenance of Israel’s Air Tractor aerial firefighting fleet. In 2016 Affinity, an Elbit Systems JV, was contracted to procure, operate and maintain the Phenom 100, Beechcraft T-6 and GROB G-120TP fleets of the UK MFTS for the Royal Air Force. These bring the total number of aircraft operated by Elbit Systems to over 170.