At 10:00 this morning (Wednsday), the final three Lavi aircraft were presented at an official ceremony, symbolizing the completed purchase of the trainer planes. The ceremony was attended by Ministry of Defense Director General Maj. Gen. (res) Udi Adam, Deputy Director General and Head of Procurement Brig. Gen. (res) Shmuel Tzuker, Israeli Air Force Chief of Staff Tal Kalman, Italy's Ambassador to Israel Francesco Maria Tello, the Head of Procurement at the Italian Ministry of Defense Langella Francesco, and Mauro Moretti, the CEO of the Leonardo company, the creator the plane.
Thirty M346 advanced trainer aircraft were purchased by Israel's Ministry of Defense Procurement Administration on behalf of the Israeli Air Force (IAF). The planes were delivered in record time, two years from the date of delivery of the first aircraft, at a production rate of roughly 1.5 aircraft per month. The first Lavi landed in Israel during the summer of 2014 and has been considered a great success, leading to significant improvements in the Air Force's ability to train its future pilots.
Ministry of Defense Deputy Director General and Head of Procurement, Shmuel Tzuker thanked the Italian delegation for "the deep friendship between Italy and Israel and the teamwork between both defense ministries and security industries in both countries."
"I can't remember a deal of this size that was completed without delays and with so much appreciation. The Lavi contract opened opportunities for deals between Israeli, American and Italian industries. The Israeli Air Force is now the world's largest user of the M346 plane. We love the plane, trust it and believe in it."
The procurement of the trainer plane is part of a massive transaction signed by Israel and Italy in 2012. Within the framework of the deal, the Italian government agreed to reciprocal procurement deal with Israeli defense industries to the sum of more than 4 billion NIS. The agreement secured 25 years of maintenance by TOR, a joint Elbit-Israel Aerospace Industries company, which has already contributed millions of shekels to Israel's defense industry market, and has allowed for the development of advanced technological systems while creating jobs.