02 Mar 2018

Italian Air Force receives eighteenth M-346 from Leonardo

The Italian Air Force has received its eighteenth M-346 following an official ceremony held at a Leonardo Aircraft Division site in Venegono Superiore.

Designated T-346A by the Italian Air Force, the M-346 aircraft represents the tip of the spear for Galatina’s 61st Air Wing (Lecce) where Italian fighter pilots train alongside contemporaries from Argentina, Austria, France, Greece, Kuwait, The Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain and the United States.

The early operational training carried out in the T-346A prepares pilots for the aero-tactical line prior to flying such aircraft as the Eurofighter or F-35. The Italian Air Force base also pioneers innovative LVC (Live, Virtual and Constructive Simulation) technology to link simulators to live sorties. Essentially, this enables pilots flying full-motion training devices on the ground to act as wingmen or targets for fighters up in the air.

To date, the M-346 has been ordered by the Israeli Air Force, Italian Air Force, Polish Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force. Its flight envelope, high thrust and weight ratio, ability to accomplish steep angles of attack, and extreme manoeuvrability allow the M-346 to mimic flight conditions comparable to those of a next generation combat aircraft.

For the Italian Air Force, the hope now is that the M-346 will maximise training effectiveness, reducing the need to fly sorties on far more expensive and complex variants of frontline aircraft.

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