The Lavi
The Lavi Defense Ministry's Acquisitions Administration

In a celebratory ceremony held at the assembly line in the Italian city of Varese on Tuesday, the last of a fleet of 30 advanced M-346 training jets dubbed Lavi in Hebrew was acquired by the Israeli Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry has now purchased 30 of the agile jets that cost around 20 million euros (over $22.7 million) each, which it began acquiring in March 2014.

The new jets, which are made by the Italian company Leonardo - formerly Alenia Aermacchi - and are capable of speeds of mach 1.15 (roughly 875 miles per hour), will be used to train the Israeli Air Force's (IAF) next generation of ace pilots.

Tuesday's ceremony in Varese was attended by the Defense Ministry's Acquisitions Administration CEO and Chief Director Shmuel Tzucker, as well as Israeli Ambassador to Italy Naor Gilon, and representatives of the Italian Defense Ministry and Leonardo.

The 30 jets were delivered over a period of roughly two years according to a fixed timeline, at a production pace of around one-and-a-half jets every month.

Since first being received in early 2014 the Lavi jets have been considered a great success, and are viewed as seriously upgrading the capabilities of the IAF in training its future pilots.

Following the ceremony in Italy, Tzucker said, "we saw great importance in arriving here to personally thank every one of the dozens of Italian assembly line workers, engineers and project team, who for four years worked around the clock in order to provide the Air Force with the most advanced training jet in the world."

"We are already seeing the Lavi's contribution in Israel, both in the excellent responses of every pilot who merits to fly it, and also in the many compensations that the deal brought to the Israeli security industries," added Tzucker.

Israel's acquisition of the planes, with a contract to keep and maintain them at least 25 years, came as part of a larger defense deal signed with Italy in July, 2012. For its part, Italy agreed to purchase upwards of 4 billion shekels' worth (just over $1.1 billion) of Israeli military equipment.

The Hebrew name Lavi given to the jet, which means lion, hearkens to a line of Israeli planes cancelled in the 1980s due to their heavy costs.

Receiving the new Lavi Defense Ministry's Acquisitions Administration
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