Italy has accepted its first aircraft from an initial six-unit order for the Alenia Aermacchi M-346, with the advanced jet trainer to enter use with its air force's flight test unit next year.
Announced on 14 November, the milestone moves the locally-designated T-346A a step closer to frontline use with its launch operator. Its manufacturer will hand over a second example "shortly" at Pratica di Mare air force base, with the other four to follow in 2012.
Alenia Aermacchi will also deliver an associated package of ground-based training equipment next year under the terms of a €220 million ($301 million) production contract received in 2009.
© Alenia Aermacchi
Acceptance of the first aircraft came after the completion of flight tests performed by Italy's General Directorate of Air Armaments at the company's Venegono site.
Italy has previously outlined a requirement to buy 15 M-346 trainers, with 12 of the type also on order for the Republic of Singapore Air Force. But a proposed deal for 48 examples to be built in the current configuration and also in a proposed armed standard for the UAE has yet to progress to the contract stage.
One of Italy's T-346As is visiting the UAE to participate in the Dubai air show as Alenia Aermacchi maintains hopes of closing a deal.