Singapore last week confirmed its choice of the Alenia Aermacchi M346 advanced jet trainer to replace the aging TA-4S Skyhawks its air force operates. Deliveries will begin in 2012. Prime contractor ST Aerospace will manage the $412 million deal to supply 12 aircraft plus spares, and a ground-based training system (GBTS).
Alenia Aermacchi is stepping up the pace on the production line for its new
M-346 Master jet trainer at the Venegono Superiore factory in northern Italy, while also attempting to leap forward in manufacturing efficiency. Its aim is to initially produce up to 24 of the aircraft per year in a way that reduces unit costs and allows for an eventual increase in annual output to 40.
Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 Master advanced trainer is here in Singapore to compete against the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle for the republic’s air force jet trainer requirement. The M-346 has been developed by the Italian company from the Russian Yak-130 design to offer state-of-the-art training capabilities, enabling student pilots to graduate near-seamlessly to the latest frontline equipment.
Following the selection in February of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master for its advanced trainer and light combat aircraft needs, the United Arab Emirates air force and air defense (AFAD) is focused on its basic trainer requirement to replace the current Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainers. The competitors are the jet-powered Alenia Aermacchi M-311 and the turboprop Pilatus PC-21.
Alenia Aermacchi is reorganizing the layout of its Venegono plant in Italy in preparation for the start of serial production of its M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. Its contract with the Italian government for six aircraft and simulation equipment (nine more aircraft are to follow) is technically ready and awaits signatures by all the ministries involved.
Alenia Aeronautica is one of three companies within the Italian Finmeccanica group that deal with fixed-wing aircraft production. The others are Alenia Aermacchi, which is also active in both commercial and military aircraft, and Superjet International, the joint venture with Russia’s Sukhoi in the regional jet business. The company is eagerly awaiting the imminent maiden flight of the Boeing 787, which will open a new phase in the program.
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.
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.
Alenia Aermacchi’s first pre-production M-346 lead-in fighter trainer made its official maiden flight on July 7 with Aermacchi chief test pilot Olinto Cecconello at the controls. The jet, painted in “Finmeccanica red” in a nod to Alenia Aermacchi’s parent company, had made three previous flights, all occurring the week before the first official public flight pictured here.