Italy revealed to be secret NATO buyer of Israeli spy planes
Previously hidden documents now reveal that Italy has acquired two additional early-warning, intelligence-gathering aircraft and services from "Tel Aviv" for a staggering price tag of $550 million.
Approximately $550 million worth of contracts between Italy and "Israel" Aerospace Industries (IAI) have been completed for the supply of two more early warning spy planes as well as support and ground logistics services for the Italian air force.
The transactions raise the total number of special mission aircraft that IAI will have sold to the Italians to four, as shown in publicly available records from the Italian Defense Ministry and the nation's parliament.
IAI said in July of this year that it had been given a contract worth more than $200 million to supply special purpose aircraft to a European NATO member state, however it did not specify which state.
The Italian air force is also the customer in another sizable transaction IAI announced in 2020, despite IAI's continued refusal to "share the name of its customers," according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
As normalization deals surge in the #Arab world, so does the Israeli arms sales, the same arms used to murder, suppress, and occupy #Palestinian people every single day. pic.twitter.com/WLDqWmDfKR— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) April 15, 2022
The ELTA subsidiary of IAI builds a variety of special mission aircraft, many of which are based on executive jets that have had military systems added to them. These include SIGINT aircraft for electronic and communication intelligence gathering and electronic warfare - to jam enemy radar and communications systems - as well as CAEW aircraft which provide airborne early warning and control as well as electronic intelligence capabilities. They also include Maritime patrol aircraft to track ships and submarines.
The Italian Defense Ministry announced in 2021 that it intended to buy two new CAEW espionage planes from ELTA. It is based on a modified Gulfstream G550 commercial aircraft that is used for air control and early warning missions. It is comparable to the Israeli Air Force's Nachshon Eitam aircraft.
Israeli Security Ministry Director-General Amir Eshel met with Italian Defense Ministry Director-General Luciano Portolano in Rome last month, "Tel Aviv" said Tuesday.
The two officials met for talks meant to bolster cooperation within the security industry between the two governemtns, the Israeli ministry said.
"The meetings focused on cooperation in the fields of procurement, military equipment, broadening research and development processes, strengthening industrial cooperation between countries, and promoting key procurement initiatives," "Tel Aviv's" security ministry said on social media.
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