For calling the M-346 jet trainer the 'son of Yak', neither Alenia nor Aermacchi may ever forgive me. But, in my defense, the M-346 is a westernized and updated version of the Yak-130 originally produced by the Yakovlev/Aermacchi joint venture in the early 1990s.
Now, this descendant of Soviet aeronautical skills could become Alenia's bid for the US Air Force's potential order for 100 light attack fighter-trainers.
The US-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica has confirmed to Flightglobal that the M-346 is being considered for the company's response to the USAF's request for information, which was issued last week. The M-346 is also Alenia's probable candidate for the USAF's T-38 replacement contract, called T-X.
Alenia North America also is considering offering the all-Italian (versus half-Soviet) MB-339 trainer. Interestingly, the USAF previously rejected the MB-339 for its primary trainer in favor of the Hawker Beechcraft (nee Raytheon) T-6A Texan II.
Both the M-346 and the MB-339 are the first jet-powered options to be publicly proposed for the potential light attack order.
The competition is dominated by turboprop-powered aircraft, ranging from high-end the (ie AT-6, Embraer Super Tucano) to low-end (ie Air Tractor AT-802U) to nostalgic revivals (OV-10, PA-48). The USAF also is considering several unknown clean-sheet designs.