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Aermacchi assembles M-346 trainer team to replace Russians

Aermacchi has assembled a new team of partners to pursue development of a westernised version of the Yakovlev Yak-130 lead-in fighter trainer after the programme's Russian participants failed to come up with funding.

The aircraft is being relaunched by the Italian manufacturer as the M-346 and will be re-engined with the Honeywell F124 turbofan (Flight International, 25-31 July).

Russian design bureau Yakovlev and the Sokol factory held 25% each in the earlier Slovakian-built PSLM DV-2S powered Yak/ AEM-130 programme, with Aermacchi owning the balance.

"Different funding timescales, in Russia and in Italy, have led us to give priority to the development of a fully western derivative of the aircraft," says Aermacchi. "The development of a Russian version is also being pursued by Yakovlev and Sokol under a different timescale."

The M-346's digital flight control system will be provided by Teleavio and Marconi Italiana in collaboration with BAE Systems. The avionics are the responsibility of Alenia DSAE.

The first M-346 prototype is set to fly in mid-2002, followed by a second a year later.

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