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.
Alenia Aermacchi M-346
Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aermacchi division is launching a competition to find a nickname for its M346. The division’s CEO, Carmelo Cosentino, said the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) example flew on July 7, and that the aircraft is 700 kg lighter than the prototypes, giving it “much better maneuverability.” Aermacchi hopes to attract 35 to 40 percent of a market for around 2,000 advanced jet trainers over the next 25 years.
Student pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have begun basic flight training on the Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop. Twelve aircraft have now been airfreighted to the RSAF’s Flying Training School at Pearce airbase in Australia and re-assembled. The remaining seven are due for delivery next month. They are replacing Alenia Aermacchi S-211 jet trainers that are now nearly 25 years old.
Although neither the UAE nor Singapore has yet chosen their new jet trainer, both have now eliminated the BAE Systems Hawk from consideration. They continue to evaluate the more modern Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and KAI/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle. These setbacks have caused BAE to refocus the Hawk sales campaign on upgrades and through-life support.
At the Finmeccanica exhibit here at Farnborough (Outside OE2) visitors once again can find Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. At a first glance the aircraft looks the same as that exhibited at previous airshows, but close up it is possible to note some of the differences featured in this first preproduction aircraft, which was rolled out from the Italian group’s assembly line in April.
Each of the original three contenders to supply the UAE Air Force with an advanced jet trainer (AJT) offered unique selling points that could have tipped the balance in their favor. But following the recent rejection of the BAE Hawk submission, a final selection is expected imminently and could even be announced before the end of the show.
While the first two prototypes of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 lead-in fighter trainer are engaged in a development program, a third is taking shape at the Italian manufacturer’s Venegono facility. It incorporates some differences from the two existing aircraft, having benefited from test and evaluation programs Alenia Aermacchi conducted with air force pilots from various countries.
As competition to meet demands for advanced jet trainers in the region intensifies, Irkut is promoting the Yak-130 now entering production to meet a Russian Air Force requirement. Selected in 2002 as the principal aircraft for basic and advanced training, the Yak-130 has only recently begun rolling off the Irkut production line against an initial order for 12.
For more than a decade Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica dreamed of joining Airbus only to have its advances rejected by the group’s French, German and British shareholders. So the subsidiary of the diverse Finmeccanica group has taken to courting partnerships in other countries such as Russia, Greece and Turkey, while increasing its commitment to serving as a Tier 1 supplier to Airbus’ rival Boeing.
Celebrating its first export order–to Algeria–the Yak-130 is displayed here at Farnborough International as a multirole advanced trainer that can also be employed to destroy ground and some aerial targets when frontline fighter bombers and strike aircraft are not available.
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