DrThe Hellenic Air Force base near Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese has been in existence since 1960 and has served as a training center for fighter pilots from Greece and other NATO member states for decades. But for some time now, Israel has also played an important role there. Elbit Defense from Haifa intends to modernize the Kalamata training center, including the latest simulators of the Air Force’s interaction with naval and ground forces units. In mid-April, the defense ministries of both countries signed a 22-year counterpart agreement worth 1.3 billion euros.
Informed sources in Athens also say that Kalamata could also be made available to “regional clients” in the long term, for example from the Middle East and North Africa. After all, the base will be able to offer “some of the best training facilities and simulation systems in the world”. According to Israeli information, these are based on the Israeli Air Force Flight School and include Italian-made training aircraft.
Military cooperation between Greece and Israel is an example of the rapprochement between the two states that has intensified for a good decade. From a Greek point of view, the development is reinforced by the increasingly aggressive behavior of Turkey. Israel’s ambassador to Athens said a few weeks ago that cooperation between Israel and Greece on defense issues could not replace the US role as security guarantor in the region, but it could complement it. “Greece can act as a mediator for us with countries with which we do not have full relations yet,” says Ambassador Yossi Omrani, who talks about a strategic alliance. The Greeks, Israelis and the Emirati air force have long conducted exercises over the Mediterranean alongside the Americans and others.
In addition to the United States
It is emphasized in Athens that the Greek-Israeli and Greek-American rapprochement complement each other. It is noteworthy that, in parallel with the investments made by Elbit Systems in Kalamata, the US Navy has upgraded its presence at the base in Cretan Souda Bay. The exploration ship USS Hershel Williams Souda is designated as the base of operations. The United States had previously named Greece and Turkey to the same name as the Allies. That has changed, “one can hear from Greek government circles.
At least since the Turkish decision to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defense system, security services in Washington have seen Greece’s role in the region differently. A “security gap” has arisen, and Greece is Washington’s “natural ally” to fill it. “After a decade of underfunding, we started to invest in our military deterrent capabilities within our financial capabilities,” she says from the mouth of a professional. “At the same time, we have made sure that Turkey does not receive important military goods such as the F-35 fighter jets, which the United States has prevented from selling to the army. Turkish, because that would be a risk not only for Greece, but for NATO as a whole. “