At the 2009 Le Bourget air show, Alenia Aeronautica announced a long-awaited contract to sell its new M346 Master advanced trainer jet to the Italian Air Force. This initial agreement covers 6 jets and an integrated training service, with an option for another 9 aircraft.
Alenia’s M346 advanced trainer and light attack jet 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 autonomously 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 from its Fiat Avio/Honeywell ITEC F124-GA-200 turbofans, 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.