The United Arab Emirates has selected the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master to fulfill its advanced trainer and combat support requirement. The UAE Air Force and Air Defense (AFAD) plans to acquire 48 Masters for lead-in fighter training and light attack duties. Details of the deal are yet to be finalized, but the agreement, announced on February 25 during the IDEX defense exhibition, also covers the establishment of a joint venture between Alenia Aermacchi and the UAE’s Mubadala Development Company, with the aim of establishing a final assembly line in the UAE.
The UAE AFAD chose the M-346 after a three-year evaluation. The trainer competed against the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle and the BAE Systems Hawk 128, although the latter was eliminated at an earlier stage. The UAE decision is an important one for the M-346, as it represents the type’s first success in an export competition.
The UAE AFAD also has an outstanding requirement for a basic trainer. Alenia Aermacchi is offering the M-311 for that competition, and the selection of the M-346 for the advanced trainer role strengthens its hand.