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Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master

The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master is a military twin-engine

M-346 Master
transonic trainer aircraft. Originally co-developed withYakovlev as the
Yak/AEM-130, the partnership was dissolved in 2000 and Alenia
Aermacchi proceeded to separately develop the M-346 Master, while
Yakolev continued work on the Yakovlev Yak-130. The first flight of
the M-346 was performed in 2004. The type is currently operated by
the air forces of Italy, Israel, Singapore, and Poland. Since 2016 the
manufacturer became Leonardo-Finmeccanica as Alenia Aermacchi
merged into the new Finmeccanica, finally rebranded as Leonardo in

An Italian M-346 in flight during the 55th

Anniversary of the Frecce Tricolori.
Role Advanced jet trainer / light
Development attack
Manufacturer Leonardo
Operational history
Alenia Aermacchi
T-X program
First flight 15 July 2004
Operators Introduction September 2015, Italy

Specifications (M-346) Status In service

See also Primary users Italian Air Force
References Israeli Air Force
External links Republic of Singapore Air
Produced 2004–present
Development Unit cost US$20 million[1]

In 1992, Aermacchi signed a cooperation agreement with Yakovlev to Developed from Yakovlev Yak-130
provide financial and technical support for the new trainer that the firm
had been developing since 1991 for the Russian Air Force in competition with the Mikoyan MiG-AT; Aermacchi also gained the
right to modify and market the aircraft for the Western market.[3] The resulting aircraft first flew in 1996 and was brought to Italy the
following year to replace the aging MB-339. By this point, the aircraft was being marketed as the Yak/AEM-130. In February 1996,
Russia provided initial funding for the Y [4]
ak/AEM-130 and pledged to purchase up to 200 aircraft for the Russian Air Force.

In October 1998, it was reported that the venture was increasingly becoming an Italian-led effort due to a lack of financial support on
the part of Russia.[5] By July 2000, Aermacchi held a 50% stake in the development programme, Yakovlev and Sokol had a 25%
share each.[6] In mid-2000, it was announced that differences in priorities between the two firms, and a lack of financial backing from
the programme's Russian participants, had brought about an end to the partnership, and that each firm would pursue development of
the aircraft independently; Yakovlev received US$77 million for technical documents of the aircraft.[7][8] Yakovlev would be able to
sell the Yak-130 to countries such those in the Commonwealth of Independent States, India, Slovakia and Algeria; while Aermacchi
would be able to sell the M-346 to NATO countries, among others.[7]
The M-346 is a highly modified version of the aircraft that was being developed under the joint venture. It uses equipment
exclusively from Western manufacturers, such as the digital flight control system being developed by a collaboration between
Teleavio, Marconi Italiana and BAE Systems.[8] In July 2000, Aermacchi selected the Honeywell F124 turbofan engine to power the
type in place of the originally intended Povazske Strojarne DV-2S powerplant.[6][9] On 7 June 2003, the first M-346 prototype rolled
out, this prototype conducted its maiden flight on 15 July 2004. In 2004, a contract for the development of a full-mission simulator
for the M-346 was awarded toCAE.[10] Further production contracts for CAE's full-mission simulator have since been issued.

In January 2005, the Greek Ministry of Defence signed a Memorandum of

Understanding (MOU) to become a partner in the programme and, in 2006,
Aermacchi signed an industrial cooperation agreement with Hellenic Aerospace
Industry.[12] In March 2008 the Chilean ENAER signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) with Alenia Aermacchi at the FIDAE air show

On 10 April 2008, a further prototype, produced in the final configuration (new

landing gear and air brake, more composite parts), was rolled out.[14] On 18
December 2008, Aermacchi announced that the M-346 had attained a maximum
speed of Mach 1.15 (1,255 km/h, 678 knots, 780 mph), claiming the occasion to be M-346 prototype 002 at Le Bourget
the first in which an all-Italian built aircraft had broken the sound barrier in 50 airshow, 2005


In May 2008, Boeing signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on the marketing, sales, training and support of two
Aermacchi trainer aircraft, the M-346 and theM-311.[16]

On 20 June 2011, a Military Type Certification was granted to Alenia Aermacchi for the M-346 Master by the General Directorate for
Aeronautical Armaments of the Italian Ministry of Defence in Rome. Throughout the certification process, the M-346 development
aircraft made 180 test flights, totalling 200 flights across the course of the previous five months, during which over 3,300 test points
were completed.[17]

In the trainer jet role, the M-346 is unarmed; however, in November 2015, it was reported that Alenia Aermacchi was close to
finalising a combat-capable dual-role variant of the airplane.[18] In late 2014, a series of armed tests involving the IRIS-T missiles
took place.[19] In 2015, an armed variant, designated as the M-346 LCA (Light Combat Aircraft), was offered to Poland; this
reportedly included a capability of operating theBrimstone air-to-ground missile.[18][20]

In February 2016, the newly created, consolidated Leonardo-Finmeccanica company promoted the Aermacchi M346 in two new
roles; companion training and dissimilar air combat training. In order to better replicate the flight performance and behavior of
various enemy aircraft, both the g-force and angle of attack can be independently selected in the flight control system; reportedly,
existing customers have stated the type to be well suited to the aggressor role.

The M-346 is designed for the principal role of lead-in fighter trainer, in which
capacity it is used to deliver pilot training for the latest generation of combat fighter
aircraft. Powered by a pair of Honeywell F124 turbofan engines, it is capable of
transonic flight without using anafterburner, which is designed to reduce acquisition
and operating costs; Alenia Aermacchi has claimed that the M-346's flight
performance to be "second only to afterburner-equipped aircraft".[21] During the
design process, the twin concepts of "design-to-cost" and "design-to-maintain" were
adhered to, reducing acquisition and operational costs;[22] the per flying hour costs
of the M346 are reportedly one-tenth of those of the Eurofighter Typhoon.[21] An M-346 in flight

Outside of the training role, the M-346 was designed from the onset to accommodate
additional operational capabilities, including combat missions such as close air
support and air police duties.[23]
The M-346 incorporates a full-authority quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system which, in combination with the
optimized aerodynamic configuration of the aircraft, provides for full manoeuvrability and controllability at very high angle of attack
(in excess of 30° degrees).[22] The flight control system, incorporating a HOTAS design philosophy, is equipped with adjustable
angle of attack and g-force limitations; when combined with its wide performance envelope, this allows the M-346 to effectively
mimic the flight performance of various fighter aircraft operated by trainee pilots or to progressively increase difficulty levels, thus
raising the training's effectiveness.[21][22] A pilot activated recovery system is present which, when pressed, conducts an automatic
recovery by returning the aircraft to a steady and level flight path.

A digital avionics system, modelled on its counterparts on board the latest generation of military aircraft such as the Saab JAS-39
Gripen, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptorand the Eurofighter Typhoon, is incorporated, making it suitable for all stages of advanced
flight training and thus reducing the use of combat aircraft for training purposes.[22] A modular avionics architecture is employed,
allowing for new equipment and systems to be incorporated and increasing the type's growth potential. The M-346's glass cockpit is
representative of the latest generation cockpit and is compatible with night vision goggles; it has three color LCD multifunctional
displays, a head-up display, and an optional helmet-mounted display.[23] A voice command system is also present, which is
integrated with functions such as the navigation system. The communication systems include VHF/UHF transceivers, IFF
transponder, and traffic collision avoidance system(TCAS).[23]

A key feature of the M-346 is the embedded tactical training system (ETTS). The
ETTS is capable of emulating various equipment, such as radar, targeting pods,
weapons, and electronic warfare systems; additionally, the ETTS can interface with
various munitions and other equipment actually being carried on board.[21] The
system can act in a standalone mode, in which simulated data and scenario
information is loaded prior to takeoff, or in a network, during which data is received
and acted upon in real time from ground monitoring stations via the aircraft's
datalink.[22] For post-mission evaluation and analysis purposes, accumulated data,
Head-on view of a M-346 on the
such as video from the optional helmet mounted display, can be extracted and
ground, 2015
reviewed.[21] Alenia Aermacchi also offer an Integrated Training System (ITS),
combining the M-346 with a ground-based training system as part of a wider
syllabus towards qualifying pilots.[22]

The M-346 is equipped with a total of nine hardpoints, capable of carrying external
loads up to 3,000 kg while maintaining a high thrust-to-weight ratio; stores
management data can be presented upon any of the multifunction displays in the
cockpit.[23] The radar cross-section of the M346 in a standard configuration is
reportedly 20 square meters; this can be reduced to a single square meter by
installing a low-observability kit which has been developed for the type. Other self-
protection systems that can be fitted include a radar warning receiver, flares and
chaff dispensers, and active electronic warfare systems according to Alenia
Aermacchi the kit provides "excellent levels of survivability and effectiveness when
The M-346 on display atIsraeli Air
operating in hostile theatres".[21][22][23] Other equipment that is optionally
Force Museum
installable upon the M-346 includes targeting pods, a tactical datalink, and multi-
mode fire-control radar.[22]

Combat missions can also be performed by the M-346, having been designed to be rapidly reconfigured in the field into a combat
aircraft capable of performing ground attack, anti-shipping, and aerial combat missions, in a "home defense" capacity.[23] Various
munitions can be carried, including a 12.7mm gun pod, IRIS-T or AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, various air-to-surface
missiles, anti-ship missiles, free-fall and laser-guided bombs and rockets, reconnaissance pods, and electronic warfare pods; weapon
aiming is performed using the helmet mounted display and the multifunction displays. All main systems are duplicated, and the flight
system reconfigurable, to increase survivability and functionality in the event of battle damage being sustained.[23] The aircraft has a
maximum range of 1,470 nautical miles when outfitted with a maximum of three external fuel tanks, this can be extended via in-
flight refuelling via a removable refuelling probe.[21][23]
Operational history
The Italian Air Force intends to acquire a first batch of 15 low rate production M-
346 aircraft.[24] On 18 June 2009, Alenia Aermacchi announced they had received
an order for the first six with an option for nine more.[25] In September 2015, the
Italian Air Force conducted their first training course using the M-346 trainer

The M-346 was named the winner of a competition by the United Arab Emirates at
the IDEX 2009 defense show in Abu Dhabi on 25 February 2009.[27] The official
said the order involved delivery of 48 aircraft to be used for pilot training and light
attack duties. A final request for proposals in 2010 had set the requirement at 20 M-346 at RIAT 2009
trainers, 20 aircraft for combat duties, and the remainder would go toward the
creation of a formation flying team. However, by January 2010, negotiations to sign
a contract had reportedly stalled over specifications.

In July 2010, the M-346 was selected by Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to replace the ST Aerospace A-4SU Super
Skyhawks in the Advanced Jet Training (AJT) role, based at BA 120 Cazaux Air Base in France.[29][30] In a press release by the
Singaporean Ministry of Defence on 28 September 2010, ST Aerospace was awarded the contract to acquire twelve M-346 and a
ground-based training system on behalf of RSAF. As stipulated in the contract, ST Aerospace acts as the main contractor in the
maintenance of the aircraft after delivery by Alenia Aermacchi whileBoeing supplies the training system.[31][32][33] The RSAF holds
the distinction of being the first export customer for the type.

The Advance European Pilot Training (AEPTJ) program – also unofficially called Eurotraining – a consortium of 12 European
nations to give advance & lead-in fighter training with a common core course and training provided by a common aircraft – has
contacted Alenia Aermacchi through the European Defence agency in 2010, for further information on the M-346.[34] In May 2013,
Aleni Aermacchi announced that the AEPTJ held a low priority for the firm and that "...progress has been slow

On 18 November 2011, the prototype, which had been on display at the Dubai Air Show, crashed after departing Dubai on return to

On 16 February 2012, the M-346 was selected by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in an
exchange deal, in which Israel will build a reconnaissance satellite and AWACs
systems[37] for Italy in return for the planes.[38][39] It will operate as the IAF's main
training jet to replace the McDonnell Douglas A-4H/N Skyhawk, which has served
the IAF for over 40 years.[40][41] On 19 July 2012, a contract was signed between
Alenia Aermacchi and the Israeli Ministry of Defence to supply 30 M-346 advanced
jet trainers, with the first delivery expected in the middle of 2014.[42] The Israeli Air
Force announced on 2 July 2013 that in Israeli service the M-346 would be named
the Lavi, reusing the name given to the cancelledIAI Lavi.[43] The IAF's first M-346
An M-346 at "Giornata Azzurra" 2006
was rolled out in a ceremony at Alenia Aermacchi’s factory in Venegono Superiore
at Pratica di Mare AFB, Italy
on March 20, 2014.[44]

On 11 May 2013, an Alenia-operated M346 crashed near the village of Piana Crixia,
in Val Bormida, between Cuneo and Savona's provinces, Italy, during a test flight. The pilot was able to eject successfully and
[45] The type was
survived the crash, but received serious injuries after jumping from the tree where his parachute had been entangled.
grounded for more than three months while the cause of the crash was investigated.

On 23 December 2013, it was announced that Poland had selected the M-346 to meet a requirement for an advanced jet trainer.[47] A
contract for eight aircraft was signed on 27 February 2014.[48] The first two M-346s arrived at Deblin in November 2016.[49] The
aircraft were not officially accepted due to non-compliance with contract specifications[50] as of November 2017. Delivery deadline
was November 2016. On 22 December 2017 all 8 aircraft are accepted.
In October 2016, the Argentine Air Force also evaluated the M-346 as a potential combat fighter to replace the Dassault Mirage III
and Mirage 5 aircraft it had retired in 2015, as well as the Douglas A-4R aircraft that remain in service with only limited capability.
Argentina is speculated to be interested in 10 to 12 aircraft.[52]

In December 2017, Poland's Ministry of National Defence announced it was seeking financial penalties from Leonardo of upto 100
million zloty (U.S. $28 million) over delays in deliveries. Delivery of 8 aircraft was initially scheduled to be completed by November
2017, but were actually completed in December 2017. Additionally, the ministry complained that the aircraft weren't fully capable of
simulating certain weapon systems for training purposes.

T-X program
In the United States, Alenia Aermacchi is to submit the M-346 for the United States Air Force's T-X program to replace the aging
Northrop T-38 Talon, rebranding the aircraft as theLeonardo DRS T-100 Integrated Training System. Alenia originally intended to be
the prime contractor, anticipating moving the final assembly location from Italy to the United States if the bid succeeds. About 350
aircraft are expected to be ordered, further purchases could lead to over 1,000 aircraft being purchased overall.[54] In January 2013,
Alenia Aermacchi signed a letter of intent with General Dynamics C4 Systems, who intended to serve as the prime contractor for the
T-X bid; however, General Dynamics announced their withdrawal in March 2015.[55][56] On January 1, 2016, Alenia Aermacchi was
absorbed into a new consolidated corporation titled: Leonardo-Finmeccanica. In February 2016, it was announced that Raytheon,
who shall serve as the prime contractor, had teamed up with Leonardo-Finmeccanica to offer an advanced variant of the M-346 for
the T-X program called the T-100.[57]

On 25 January 2017, Raytheon announced that it had withdrawn as prime contractor and American partner in the T-X
competition.[58] On 8 February 2017, Leonardo confirmed that it would remain in the -X
T competition alone, withLeonardo DRS, its
US subsidiary, serving as prime contractor.[59]

Designation for the basic type

Italian military designation from 2012 for the M-346.[60]

M-346LCA (Light Combat Aircraft)

Armed variant offered to Poland as a replacement for M-346FT multirole variant in 2016
aging Su-22.[20]

M-346FT (Fighter Trainer)

Multirole variant capable of switching between training
and combat operations. New features include a new
tactical datalink system and different armament
capability, but do not include physical changes to the

M-346FA (Fighter Attack)

Multirole variant capable of air-to-air and air-to-surface
combat with a 2 tonne payload spread over 7 M-346FA multirole variant in 2017
hardpoints, advanced Grifo-346 radar, countermeasures
and stealth features including engine intake grids and
radar-absorbing coatings on the canopy and wing leading edge. It is being marketed as a
light attack aircraft also suitable for aggressor training purposes. The aircraft was revealed
on June 18, 2017 in a static display at that year's Paris Air Show. The aircraft is being
marketed for export to South American and East Asian countries, and is claimed to be able
to carry out operational missions at far lower costs than those of front-line

Designation used for the United States Air Force's T-X program.[54]


Israeli Air Force (IAF) – 30 planes in

operation,[66] received in an exchange deal for
AWACS and reconnaissance satellites being built
by Israel Aerospace Industriesfor Italy.[38]
designated M-346 "Lavi"

Operators of the M-346 (in blue) and Yak-130
Italian Air Force – 18 aircraft on order, designated


Polish Air Force – 8 aircraft in service, designated M-346 "Bielik"

41 Baza Lotnictwa Szkolnego inDęblin


Republic of Singapore Air Force(RSAF) – 12 in service[67][68]

Specifications (M-346)
Data from Alenia Aermacchi[23]

General characteristics

Crew: two, student and instructor

Length: 11.49 m (37.70 ft)
Wingspan: 9.72 m (31.89 ft)
Height: 4.76 m (16.11 ft)
Wing area: 23.52 m² (253.2 ft²)
Empty weight: 4,610 kg (10,165 lb)
Loaded weight: 6,700 kg (14,770 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 9,500 kg (20,945 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Honeywell F124-GA-200, 28 kN (6,250 lbf) each


Never exceed speed: Mach 1.2 (1,470 km/h, 793 knots)

Maximum speed: 1,059 km/h (572 knots)
Stall speed: 176 km/h (95 knots)
Play media
Range: 1,981 km (1,070 nautical miles)
Video of a M-346 inflight, 2011
Ferry range: 2,722 km (1,470 nmi) ; with 3 external drop tanks
Endurance: 2.75 hours (4 hours with external drop tanks)
Service ceiling: 13,716 m (45,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 6,705 m/min (22,000 ft/min)
Wing loading: 285 kg/m² (58.3 lb/ft²)
Thrust/weight: 0.84

Hardpoints: Provisions for a total of 9 pylon stations (2× wingtip, 1× under-fuselage plus 6× underwing), capable of
mounting up to 3,000 kilograms (6,600 lb) of external payload and up to 3× 630litres (140 imp gal; 170 US gal)
external drop tanks (only pylon stations 4, 5, 6 are wet-plumbed)

See also
Related development

Yakovlev Yak-130

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Hongdu L-15
KAI T-50 Golden Eagle

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External links
M-346 (product page), IT: Leonardo.
Officially released video of Alenia AermacchiT-100 on YouTube

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