Alenia Aermacchi tests low radar cross-section kit for M-346

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Alenia Aermacchi has completed a low radar cross-section research project on its M-346 Master advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft, the company says.

A series of unspecified external airframe modifications and material applications were tested to reduce M-346's radar cross-section. The work was especially focused on the aircraft's frontal area, including its two engine air inlets.

Conceived as an easy to install and remove kit, the enhancements were assessed last year by Alenia Aermacchi in partnership with Pisa-based Ingegneria dei Sistemi (IDS). The work drew on the latter's previous research experience linked to other naval, ground and air programmes and was supported using funds from Italy's four-year national defence research plan.

alenia aermacchi m-346, alenia aermacchi
 © Alenia Aermacchi

The kit was first applied to aircraft models and ground tested at IDS's facilities, before a final configuration was approved for flight-testing. Sources say that during the latter campaign a modified M-346 demonstrated unchanged flying and performance characteristics, with no operational limitations encountered across its entire flight envelope.

A low radar cross-section kit could be applied to a light-attack variant of the M-346 already being developed by Alenia Aermacchi.