Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi rolled out the first of 12 M-346 advanced jet trainers destined for Singapore, the aircraft’s first export customer, on August 9, weeks after announcing a 30-jet contract with Israel. The Finmeccanica company has also sold 15 trainers designated T-346As to the Italian Air Force.
Alenia Aermacchi rolled out the first twinjet for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) in a ceremony held at its manufacturing plant in Venegono, Italy. The first M-346 delivery to Singapore is scheduled for the end of this year.
Singapore’s government signed the contract for the lead-in fighter trainers and ground-based training systems in September 2010 with the consortium of ST Aerospace as prime contractor, Alenia Aermacchi and Boeing. ST Aerospace will provide logistics support. Boeing and Alenia Aermacchi reached an agreement in 2008 to cooperate on M-346 marketing, sales, training and product support.
On July 19 Alenia Aermacch signed a contract with Israel’s defense ministry valued at about $1 billion to supply 30 M-346s to replace Israeli Air Force (IAF) Douglas A-4 Skyhawks. The first delivery to Israel is planned in mid-2014. A joint venture between Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit will acquire the aircraft and provide training courses to the IAF under contract.
In January the first two T-346As for the Italian air force were delivered to the flight-test unit at the Pratica di Mare air base southwest of Rome, where they proceeded to undergo operational tests, Alenia Aermacchi said.
The M-346 has also been selected by the UAE to meet its need for 48 operational and training jets, although the order has not been confirmed. Last November an M-346 crashed off the coast of Dubai after appearing at the Dubai Air Show. The two crewmembers ejected safely.