Aermacchi M-346 training for the future

It has won the most important international bids, with a total of 68 aircraft ordered to date: it is the Aermacchi M-346, the most advanced/lead-in fighter trainer aircraft currently produced and the only new-generation trainer optimised for the role of training pilots who fly on latest-generation high-performance military planes. Thanks to its advanced technical design solutions and to the adoption of the latest “design-to-cost” and “design-to-maintain” concepts, the M-346 provides reduced acquisition and operational costs. Furthermore the reduced number of hours necessary for its maintenance makes the aircraft excellent for cost-effectiveness.


The M-346 entered service in 2013 with both the Italian Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force. It has also been in service in Israel since 2014. Poland, which signed a contract for 8 aircraft in February 2014, will receive the first of these aircraft by the end of 2016.


(Photo Credit Aeronautica Militare - Troupe Azzurra)


The M-346 is equipped with a digital avionic system, fully modelled on those of latest-generation military aircraft such as Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, F-16, F-18, F-22 and the future F-35 and is well-suited for every phase of advanced and pre-operational training, reducing flight hours on more expensive frontline aircraft.


The M-346’s wide flight envelope, its very high thrust/weight ratio and its extreme maneuverability make it an aircraft capable of reproducing for the student pilot flight conditions similar to those found on combat aircraft, thereby maximizing the training effectiveness.


The M-346 also integrates the ETTS - Embedded Tactical Training Simulation that has the ability to simulate a complete suite of sensors, countermeasures and armaments, and also to create a virtual tactical scenario, simulating air, naval and land forces, friend or foe, interacting in real time with the aircraft during the training missions.



The M-346 Integrated Training System (ITS) includes, together with the aircraft, an exhaustive Ground Based Training System (GBTS), enabling the student pilot to learn and rehearse the entire aircraft syllabus and all training objectives on the ground, before replicating them in flight.


A core element of the ITS is the Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC), linking simulators to live sorties, allowing pilots flying a training device on the ground to be linked with those flying on real aircraft. It allows student pilots to add complexity to training exercises, while reducing the risks and costs associated with the requirement to fly several aircraft during training missions.



 (Photo Credit Aeronautica Militare - Troupe Azzurra)


The GBTS of Leonardo – Finmeccanica’s Aircraft Division includes the following assets: Academic Training System in classrooms; Synthetic Training Devices with different degrees of complexity (Simulation-Based Training; Flight Training Device and Full Mission Simulator). A Mission Support System, the central element of configuration and data distribution with the aircraft and GBTS, and a Training Management Information System, allowing a complex management of the Integrated Training System, are also available.


The dedicated Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) has been developed to guarantee high aircraft availability and high mission rates.



Today, the M-346’s highly-automated production line meets the requirements of the programme in terms of capacity, cost and quality, assuring a production rate of up to four aircraft per month, with the capacity to respond to market requirements with maximum flexibility. 


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In November 2009, ARMAEREO (General Directorate for Aeronautical Armaments) signed a contract for a first batch of 6 M-346s (called T-346A) for the Italian Air Force, including the Ground Based Training Systems. This first order was followed by two others for a total of 18 aircraft ordered by Italy.


In 2010, the Republic of Singapore, as part of its Fighter Wings Course (FWC) programme to replace the country’s previous fleet of trainers (A-4 Skyhawk), ordered 12 M-346 aircraft and the Ground Based Training Systems. All the aircraft have been delivered to the Republic of Singapore Air Force.


In 2012, the Israeli Government signed a contract for 30 M-346s, followed by a logistics support contract, for the Advanced Trainer Aircraft (ATA) programme to replace the A-4 Skyhawks. The first M-346 LAVI was delivered in mid-2014 and the last one in July 2016.


In February 2014, a contract was signed with the Ministry of Defence of Poland to supply 8 M-346 aircraft plus logistics support, a training programme for pilots and engineers and a Ground Based Training System with dedicated classrooms and educational material. The first aircraft for Poland has just made its first flight test before its final acceptance by the customer.