Jon Lake

Aermacchi has formally launched the fully-Westernised Aermacchi M-346, a derivative of the Russo-Italian Yak-130. This private venture programme is supported and partly funded by Italy's ministry of industry, although there is no formal stated requirement for the aircraft from the Italian air force. The aircraft has been tailored as a trainer for Eurofighter with a similar cockpit layout (derived from that of the MB339CD) based around three 127mm2 (5in2) active matrix LCD multi-function display screens. The aircraft also features a similar wide-angle raster HUD and uses the same Martin Baker Mk 16 ejection seats. The BAE Systems quadruplex digital flight control system is re-programmable, allowing the aircraft to exhibit Eurofighter handling characteristics and limits.

The new M-346 will finally replace the planned Povaske Strojarne ZMK DV-2S engines with a pair of Honeywell F124 engines, as described in Monday's Flight Daily News.


This is the engine used in the Aero L-159, and in the Yak-130 is married to a Honeywell 36-150 APU. Development of the basic Yak-130 continues to meet a Russian air forces' requirement, while a hybrid Aermacchi/Yak-130 version (yet to be launched) offers some of the M-346 improvements By comparison with the sole Yak-130D prototype/ demonstrator now flying, production Yak-130s and M-346s will be one tonne lighter, and will have a shorter, shallower, thinner forward fuselage. These production aircraft incorporate other minor aerodynamic refinements, while the flight control system (FCS) is more advanced than the quadruplex hybrid analogue/ single channel digital FCS of the Yak-130D. Aermacchi is aiming the M-346 at the advanced trainer market, and are at some pains to point out that they have no plans to offer any light attack version. They confidently hope to capture some 30% of the replacement trainer market over the next 25-30 years ¡ a total of perhaps 600 potential sales if their prediction is correct.

Source: Flight Daily News