Finmeccanica’s M-346 AJT: Who’s the Master?
June 19/17: A new fighter attack version of Leonardo’s M-346 has been unveiled at the Paris air show. The updated aircraft—the M-346FA— includes the company’s Grifo multi-mode fire control radar, as well as seven pylons for external weapons loads, enabling it to carry 2,000 pounds of external weapons. Leonardo stated that the new fighter was designed to help different air forces meet their needs rapidly by building on a common base, adding that they have found international interest in the plane “specifically in the Far East and South America.”
Alenia’s Aermacchi’s M-346 advanced jet trainer began life in 1993, as a collaboration with Russia. It was also something of a breakthrough for Alenia Aermacchi, confirming that the Finmeccanica subsidiary could design and manufacture advanced aircraft with full authority quadriplex fly-by-wire controls. Those controls, the aircraft’s design for vortex lift aerodynamics, and a thrust:weight ratio of nearly 1:1, allow it to remain fully controllable even at angles of attack over 35 degrees. This is useful for simulating the capabilities of advanced 4+ generation fighters like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter, and Rafale. Not to mention Sukhoi’s SU-30 family, which has made a name for itself at international air shows with remarkable nose-high maneuvers.
The Russian collaboration did not last. For a while, it looked like the Italian jet might not last, either. It did though, and has become a regular contender for advanced jet trainer trainer contracts around the world. Its biggest potential opportunity is in the USA. For now, however, its biggest customer is Israel.
Italy’s M-346: Fast Plane, Slow Aerospace
From Partnership to Solo Flight
Slow Aerospace & M-346 Exports
M-346: Contracts and Key Events
2014 – 2017
2007 – 2008
2004 – 2006
The USA’s T-X
Competitors & Market
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