France appears to have begun the process of seeking a replacement for its air force’s fleet of aged Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet trainers – and Alenia Aermacchi's M-345 is in the frame.

Officials from nation’s DGA defence procurement agency and the air force will later this month travel to Alenia Aermacchi’s plant in Venegono, Italy, to evaluate the M-345 high-efficiency trainer.

“There is very important interest in the M-345 in countries like France,” says the manufacturer. “During our discussions, France told us that they want the same number as the Italian air force – 35.”

M-345 - Alenia Aermacchi

Alenia Aermacchi

Within Europe, Alenia Aermacchi has already sold the M-346 lead-in/advanced jet trainer to its home nation and Poland, and sees a potential deal with France as key to establishing a network of training sites across the region that could offer services to other countries.

“We need another European country from a geographical point of view. We have Lecce and Deblin – we need a triangle,” says the manufacturer. It also cites potential interest from Austria, Belgium and Spain in such training services.

The DGA was not available to comment.

Flightglobal's MiliCAS database records the French air force as having an active fleet of 86 Alpha Jets.