Greece and Israel conclude $1.65 billion arms deal after Cyprus summit

Israel and Greece announced the conclusion of a recent arms deal that is the largest in the history of their relationship, Reuters reported on Sunday. 

The deal is worth an estimated $1.65 billion and includes the establishment of a new training center for the Hellenic Air Force by the Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period. These facilities would improve the training of Greek pilots by modeling their training on an Israeli Air Force flight academy that trains with the T-6 aircraft. 

“I am certain that (this program) will upgrade the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece and thus the partnership between our two countries will deepen on the defense, economic and political levels,” said Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz.

Israel’s cooperation with Greece in the defence realm has steadily increased in recent years amidst tensions both countries have with neighbouring Turkey. Ankara has unsettled Greece as well as Israel with its sweeping claims in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a region believed to be rich in untapped hydrocarbon resources. 

This announcement also follows a recent summit that was held on Saturday where foreign ministers from Greece, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Cyprus, where the meeting was hosted in Paphos. The summit came only days after a contentious meeting between Greece and Turkey that was characterised by an acrimonious press conference involving their respective foreign ministers. 

The new contract is a direct follow up of a security agreement reached by Greece and Israel in January to establish a flight training center and provide training aircraft to the Hellenic Air Force.