The Air Force is turning a page in the training of the Icarus, as the first two new Italian M-346 trainers took off for Kalamata airport. During this time, the two new M346 aircraft completed their final tests at the facilities of the Italian manufacturer Leonardo, so that they are ready to fly to their new "nest", the 120 Air Training Wing in Kalamata, where the International Aviation Center is located Education.
The training aircraft will be accompanied by the 20 technicians of our Air Force, who in the last semester were in Italy to learn the aircraft. At the same time, the first six instructors of the Air Force, who traveled to Israel and trained on the aircraft, will also arrive in Kalamata, as well as the Israeli Air Force uses M-346s to train new pilots.
Greece is establishing a joint international school with Israel at Kalamata Air Base, home of the 120th Air Training Wing. Elbit Systems has been selected to build the school and will be tasked with supplying and operating ten M-346 trainers, as well as maintaining the HAF T-6 Texan II fleet.
At the same time, in Kalamata, the conversion work of the 120 Air Training Wing into a modern training center continues at an intensive pace. The training building where the simulators will be installed is already under construction, while the supply building has been completed. The construction of sheds for the total of 10 educational buildings which will be taken over gradually over the next period of time is also underway.
The Israeli company that has undertaken to create an International Pilot Training Center in Kalamata, in its contractual obligations, undertakes, in addition to the upgrading of all T-6 trainers to state-of-the-art training aircraft, and the conversion of a fleet of T-6 into armed training aircraft. In other words, they will carry weapons and will be the only propeller-driven aircraft of the Air Force, as the Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos had revealed.
The ambition of the Ministry of National Defense and the Staff is for the Center and Kalamata to become a pole of attraction for international aviation training, a "Top Gun" of the Mediterranean and at the same time to provide a definitive solution to the chronic problem of the Air Force's Icarus training.
Based on the interstate agreement signed by Greece and Israel, the Elbit company will supply the Center with new M-346 training aircraft in the form of time lease - to replace the aging T-2 Buckeye trainers - while ensuring the availability of the entire trainer fleet, consisting of dozens of training aircraft M-346 and T-6.
Thus, the Air Force's Icarians will have sufficient flight hours and state-of-the-art training equipment. At the same time, pilots from all over the world will be able to train in the new M-346 training aircraft and in state-of-the-art simulators.
The Israelis will also undertake the maintenance of the aircraft and the upgrade of the ground training system (i.e. the simulators). Pilots will be trained on the integrated system of the new training jet, the Italian-made M-346 (Alenia Aermacchi).
A strong argument of the Israelis is the good relations between the two countries in recent years and the co-training of Greek Air Force pilots in joint exercises with the Israeli Air Force. After all, the pilots of the two countries are considered among the best in the world.
ELBIT's proposal provides approximately 10,000 flight hours for each year. It is also proposed to upgrade the availability of training helicopters, so that they are never below the number of 25 at the disposal of the Ikari. Today availability is much lower and rarely exceeds 50% of this number.
It should be mentioned, that the actual work of operational training had been transferred to the fighter squadrons, where air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon targeting and utilization procedures are carried out. To be declared combat ready, crews must complete a minimum of 200+ hours in F-16s, at a cost of $15,000 per hour. In a LIFT trainer (M-346, T-50, Hawk, T-7 Redhawk) the corresponding cost does not exceed 7,000 dollars.
The M-346 is a new-generation, twin-engine, two-seat training aircraft that features a fully digital cockpit and electronic systems. It has a length of 11.49m, a wingspan of 9.72m and can exceed 1,000 kilometers per hour using two Honeywell F124-GA-200 turbofan engines.
At the same time, it has a range of 1,925 kilometers and can fly for 4 hours carrying 3 external fuel tanks. Finally, it integrates a range of aviation training systems such as ETTS (Embedded Tactical Training System), TNA (Training Need Analysis) and TMIS (Training Management Information System).