Alenia Aermacchi on 9 July delivered the first two of 30 M-346 training jets to the Israeli Air Force.

The M-346 – renamed the “Lavi” by Israel – will replace Douglas TA-4s and eliminate the need to bridge with the Lockheed Martin F-16A/B for Israeli fighter pilots.

Israel selected the M-346 in 2012 as part of a government-to-government agreement with Italy, which included the sale of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)/Gulfstream G550 conformal airborne early warning and control aircraft to the Italian air force.

M-346 Lavi 1

“This is an important milestone for Alenia Aermacchi, which, in less than two years, has signed the contract, performed the roll-out of the first aircraft last March and delivered the first two M-346s,” the Italian company says in a statement.

It is also a milestone for the IAI/Elbit Systems joint venture Tor, which will modify the fleet with Israeli air force equipment and maintain the aircraft. Tor has received a $640 million contract, but the lifecycle value of the deal could be worth up to $2 billion.

The M-346s are equipped with two Honeywell F124 turbofan engines and fly-by-wire flight controls.

M-346 Lavi 2

Israel is the third international operator of the M-346 behind Italy and the Singaporean air force. Poland also has selected the M-346, with first delivery scheduled in 2016.

Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, has six more M-346s in final assembly and five in less advanced stages of assembly. Israel is expected to receive all 30 jets before 2017.

M-346 Lavi 3