The Sky Hawk, used for training at the Israel Air Force training base in Hatzerim for the past 40 years, will soon be retiring and making way for a new training aircraft - the Lavi.
The first of 30 planes expected to arrive in Israel in the next two years was transfered to the Defense Ministry on Thursday.
The new aircraft, named after the Israeli combat aircraft project that failed in the 80's, was launched a ceremony in the manufacturer's factory in Varese, Italy. The launch was attended by IAF officers and senior officials from the Defense Ministry's procurement department.
The deal with the Italians is estimated at $1 billion.
The Lavi aircraft (known as f-346i) has two engines which allow a safer flight in case of engine loss. It is also equipped with advanced control and aeronautics systems and reaches a speed of 1.15 Mach and is used by the Polish, Italian and Singapore air forces. It will be used in the advanced stages of IAF flight training.
Director of the Procurement Department at the Ministry of Defense, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Samuel Tzucker, said that the tender was awarded to the Italian company and not a Korean company that competed for it because the Italians have committed to a reciprocal deal to purchase intelligence aircrafts and satellites from the Israeli defense industry. Tzucker also noted the deal also included American financial aid since the aircraft's engines are manufactured in the US.
A few days ago the aircraft passed a successful debut flight which followed by a rollout ceremony that took place at the manufacturer factory in Varese.