The Italian air force’s first T-346A advanced jet trainer made a 40min debut flight from Alenia Aermacchi’s Venegono production site on 31 March, with the aircraft due to enter service soon.
During its first flight, the M-346 variant reached an altitude of 15,000ft (4,570m), and underwent checks on its handling and systems functionality, the company says. The aircraft had been rolled out at Venegono last December, along with a second example.
“The aircraft demonstrated its excellent characteristics in terms of handling, energy and man-machine interface,” says Alenia Aermacchi chief test pilot Quirino Bucci.
Both images © Alenia Aermacchi
Alenia Aermacchi says the remaining Italian aircraft under contract are now in build on its new M-346 final assembly line at Venegono, along with 12 more for launch export customer Singapore. Italy has so far signed for six of the aircraft from a planned acquisition of 15 to be used at the air force’s training school at Lecce air base.
A T-100 version of the M-346 is being proposed as a potential solution to the US Air Force’s T-X trainer requirement, and Alenia Aermacchi also says that “the air forces of several nations have expressed great interest in this aircraft”.