By signing a contract worth about $1 billion to buy 30 aircraft and related training equipment, Israel has become the fourth customer for Aermacchi’s M-346 jet trainer. (AA photo)
ROME --- Alenia Aermacchi has signed a contract with Israeli Ministry of Defence to supply 30 M-346 advanced trainer aircraft. The deal is part of a larger Government-to-Government agreement between Israel and Italy that includes aircraft, engines, maintenance, logistics, simulators and training, provided also by other Israeli and international companies.
The new aircraft will replace the A-4 Skyhawks currently in service and will make up the new trainer fleet of the Israeli Air Force. Delivery of the first M-346 is expected in the middle of 2014.
Giuseppe Giordo, Alenia Aermacchi Chief Executive Officer and Responsible for the Aeronautics Sector of Finmeccanica, said, “The signature of the contract with Israel for the supply of 30 M-346 - including an advanced training system - is the result of the technological and productive excellence of the Italian industry, the highly regarded collaboration between the two countries and the synergies with the Italian Defence Ministry. This achievement is an outstanding success for Italy, both at institutional and industrial level. The women and the men of Alenia Aermacchi, our partners, the small and medium enterprises that participate in the programme must be honoured to be part of this great accomplishment”.
Following the contract signed in 2010 with the Singapore Air Force and the one with the Italian Air Force in 2009, this new international achievement makes the M-346 the worldwide best seller for new generation trainer aircraft and is testimony to the excellence of the high-technology of the Finmeccanica Aeronautics Sector Companies.
The M-346 is the ideal platform for a latest-generation integrated training system. The versatility of the M-346 allows for its configuration as an affordable advanced combat aircraft. Thanks to its innovative technical characteristics, the aircraft also stands out on account of its high degree of safety and low acquisition and operating costs. The M-346 has been designed using the latest “design-to-cost” and “design-to-maintain” concepts, with an avionics system modeled on those used in new-generation fighter aircraft, such as Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, F-22 and the F-35.
Following the contract signed at the end of 2009 for the acquisition of a first lot of six M-346 aircraft and the ground-based training systems, the first two M-346s were delivered to the Italian Air Force at the beginning of the year.
The M-346 received its Military Type Qualification Certificate from the Italian Ministry of Defence - National Armaments Directorate in June 2011, an essential requirement to certify the full correspondence to aircraft specifications and to international military requirements.
In September 2010, the Singapore Government signed the first international contract for 12 M-346 and ground-based training systems (GBTS) under the Fighter Wings Course (FWC) program. This contract was signed with the consortium, formed by ST Aerospace (prime contractor), Alenia Aermacchi and Boeing. The first aircraft are scheduled for delivery this year. Alenia Aermacchi also finalized contracts in June 2011 with ST Aerospace to provide logistics support to the Republic of Singapore Air Force fleet of M-346. (ends)
Alenia Aermacchi M-346
(Source: Alenia Aermacchi; issued July 19, 2012)
The M-346 is the most advanced/lead-In fighter trainer currently produced and the only new generation trainer optimized for the role. Its excellent performance and flying qualities, which mimic modern frontline fighters, make the M-346 a superior fighter trainer. Its advanced design solutions provide high safety standards and reduced acquisition and operational costs. The M-346 is tailored to train pilots to fly new generation combat aircraft and is well suited for every phase of advanced and pre-operational training, allowing a reduction in the flight hours needed on the more expensive frontline aircraft.
The M-346 embodies the latest “design-to-cost” and “design-to-maintain” concepts, with avionics modelled on those of latest generation military aircraft such as the Eurofighter, the Gripen, the Rafale, F-16, F-18, F-22 and the future JSF.
The structural design already includes nine hard-points, allowing up to 3000 kg of external stores to be carried. The M-346 is characterized by installation of the Helmet Mounted Display and by provisions for tactical data link and Multi-mode Radar and Electronic Warfare System. The speed of the M-346, its ability to climb quickly and the extreme manoeuvrability make it a good representation of the high performance fighter the pilots are trained for and a highly survivable aircraft. The low maintenance man hours per flight hour and efficiencies offered by a trainer-based aircraft design also make it a very cost effective option.
The M-346 is the ideal platform for the next generation Integrated Training Systems.
In November 2009, the Italian Air Force signed the contract for the first batch of six M-346, including simulators and integrated logistics support, to fulfill the advanced/lead-in fighter training requirements for pilots that will fly the future generation combat aircraft. This contract forms part of a broader agreement to supply a total of 15 M-346 and related support.
In June 2011 the General Directorate for Aeronautical Armaments of the Italian Ministry of Defense issued the military type certificate for the M-346 trainer aircraft. This certification is a fundamental requirement for all aircraft that will be operated in a military environment. At the beginning of January 2012, the first two M-346s (which has been designated T-346A) were delivered to the Flight Test Unit at the Pratica di Mare air base (Rome), where they proceeded to undergo operational tests.
At the end of September 2010, Alenia Aermacchi signed the first international contract with the Republic of Singapore within their Fighter Wings Course (FWC) Program, which aims to replace the current fleet of trainers. The consortium, comprised of ST Aerospace (prime contractor) and Boeing, was awarded the contract to supply 12 M-346 aircraft and the Ground Based Training System. The delivery of the first aircraft is expected in 2012. Alenia Aermacchi has also finalized with ST Aerospace the logistics support contracts for the fleet of M-346 trainers for the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
The M-346 has also been selected by the UAE and, recently by Israel’s Ministry of Defence to train its air force pilots. The Israeli Air Force will be procuring 30 M-346s to replace their A-4 Skyhawks and became their new advanced trainer fleet.
The M-346 features innovative design solutions. Vortex lift aerodynamics, together with the full authority quadruplex Fly-by-Wire control system, allow the aircraft to remain fully controllable at angles of attack of 35° degrees. With this technological achievement, Alenia Aermacchi confirms it can autonomously design and manufacture advanced aircraft with Fly-by-Wire flight controls system. This, combined with the twin-engine configuration and very high thrust/weight ratio, translates into safety levels unattainable by its competitors.
The M-346 also integrates digital avionics with the ability to simulate sensors and threats in flight (Embedded Tactical Simulation). These characteristics and its performance make the M-346 the world’s leading tactical pre-operational training aircraft. The aircraft is equipped with an in-flight refuelling probe to assess the related operational capability.
The M-346 program also involves other Finmeccanica Group companies including SELEX Galileo, SELEX Elsag and Sirio Panel.
The industrial baseline M-346 made its first flight in July 2008, starting the industrialization phase. The production line of the M-346 was designed by Alenia Aermacchi to respond to the requirements of the program in terms of capacity, cost and quality, together with extensive innovative features. The production line has been completely conceived and designed to achieve the rate of 4 aircraft per month, with the capacity to respond to the market requirements with extreme flexibility, without any other additional investments.
The Alenia Aermacchi Integrated Training System provides, together with the aircraft, a Ground Based Training System (GBTS) harmonized with the training philosophy, enabling the student pilot to learn and rehearse the entire aircraft syllabus and all training objectives on the ground.
The M-346 baseline Ground Based Training System of Alenia Aermacchi includes: Academic Training System; a Simulation Based Training; a Flight Training Device and a Full Mission Simulator.
Enlarging the scope to the overall ITS, Mission Support System and Training Management Information System are also available.
The M-346 program is attracting increasing interest from potential international customers and partners. Besides the Italian Air Force, Singapore, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, additional opportunities exist in leading markets such as other European countries and other countries worldwide.