The General Directorate of Air Armaments (DGAA) in Rome was the venue for the acceptance ceremony for the T-346A, the first aircraft of the M-346 series, built by Alenia Aermacchi.
The official documents were signed after intensive checks carried out in a constructive and proactive manner at the Alenia Aermacchi plant in Venegono by the Testing Commission appointed for this purpose by the DGAA. At the end of this period, acceptance flights were conducted in order to confirm that all its systems would function in day-to-day operations, and two final acceptance flights were completed by pilots from the Italian Air Force’s Flight Test Unit.
“The acceptance of the first aircraft in the M-346 series, which will very soon be in service with the Italian Air Force, testifies to the success of Italian high-tech industry and represents the achievement of an undoubtedly important objective thanks to the efforts of all who work at Alenia Aermacchi”, said Giuseppe Giordo, CEO of Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia Aermacchi, and head of Finmeccanica’s Aeronautics division.
“This handover highlights our longstanding and constructive collaboration, going back many years, with the Air Force. We are also proud to be able to supply the pilots of our country’s air force, who are among the best-trained in the world, with a next-generation trainer”.
The first T-346A, to be followed shortly by a second, will initially be assigned to the Flight Test Unit at the Pratica di Mare air base, where it will undergo operational tests. The Air Force will take delivery of the other four aircraft and the associated ground-based training system by 2012, thus becoming the first air force in the world to have the use of a training line based on the M-346, the most modern aircraft currently on the market for training the military pilots of next-generation defence aircraft.
The contract, worth EUR 220 million, for the purchase by the air force of a first batch of six M-346 aircraft and a ground-based training system, was signed at the end of 2009, and the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 trainer received its military type certificate from the Italian Ministry of Defence’s certification office in June 2011. Such approval is an indispensable requirement if the aircraft is to be used in military operations.
The M-346 is the most Advanced/Lead-In Fighter trainer available on the market today, and the only one in the world designed to train pilots for next-generation, high-performance military aircraft. The advanced design solutions provide also high safety standards and reduced acquisition and operational costs.
The M-346 embodies the latest “design-to-cost” and “design-to-maintain” concepts, with avionics modelled upon those of new generation military aircraft such as Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, F-16, F-18, F-22 and the future JSF.
The M-346 is the ideal platform for the latest-generation integrated training systems. Its flexible platform is configured also for operational roles as an affordable advanced defence aircraft (AADA).
In addition to the contract with the Italian Air Force, at the end of September 2010 Alenia Aermacchi signed the first international contract with the Republic of Singapore within the Fighter Wings Course (FWC) Program, which is aimed to replace the current fleet of trainers. In February 2009, the M-346 was also selected by the United Arab Emirates for their new trainer requirement.
The M-346 also offers the best response to the demands of the countries participating in the Eurotraining programme.