Finmeccanica’s M-346 AJT: Who’s the Master?
April 2/17: Leonardo has selected a site in Alabama as the destination for producing the T-100 jet trainer if chosen by the USAF as the winner of the T-X competition. Last Thursday’s announcement said that the company will work on the pending contract at their Alabama facility, adding that the move will help create jobs in the country in addition to providing the Air Force with a next-generation trainer. The trainer was initially intended to be built in partnership at one of Raytheon’s facilities, however that pairing was terminated in January, requiring a new location for final assembly.
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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