Julian Moxon/VARESE

ITALIAN JET-TRAINER manufacturer Aermacchi has rolled out the first all-digital version of its MB339 from its Varese factory, near Milan. A maiden flight is planned for later this month and delivery of the first two of a planned 15 aircraft for the Italian air force is set for December.

The MB339CD (export versions are designated FD) is Aermacchi's contender in the fiercely competitive market for advanced trainers capable of ground attack. The first export hope is Australia, with a decision due towards the end of the year an order for around 40-45 aircraft. The company also hopes to win orders from South Africa and Brazil.

The MB339CD incorporates a full digital-avionics suite with Sextant Avionique liquid-crystal multi-function displays, a refuelling probe and structural improvements aimed at increasing lifetime and reducing maintenance costs. Export aircraft are fitted with the 20kN (4,400lb)-thrust Rolls-Royce Viper 680 power plant

Meanwhile, Aermacchi president Fabrizio Foresio says that the merger with rival Italian trainer company Siai Marchetti, formerly owned by Agusta, will be complete "within a year", and that both companies' products will be retained. "They are complementary. We will have the SF260 turboprops at one end and the MB339CD at the other, he says.

He admits that there is "some conflict" between the MB339 and the Siai Marchetti S211, although the latter is "more of a basic trainer". Production of Siai Marchetti types will probably be moved to Varese, although this will require agreement from Finmeccanica, which has a 40% stake in the temporary holding company formed to effect the merger.

Source: Flight International