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Greece’s HAI snatches stake in M346 trainer programme

Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and Aermacchi have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) outlining the terms of Greek industrial involvement in the M346 advanced and lead-in fighter trainer programme.

Finalised on 15 December, but not disclosed until last week, the agreement covers HAI’s involvement as Greece’s industrial prime contractor for the programme. This clears the company to assume responsibility for activities including the design, production and assembly of major components including the aircraft’s rear fuselage, and for managing the contributions of other Greek subcontractors.

The Greek defence ministry early last year signed an MoU worth €60 million ($72.5 million) with Aermacchi, under which its national industry will perform around 10% of the work on the M346 and its subsystems.

Aermacchi chief executive Carmelo Cosentino says HAI’s participation supports the Italian company’s strategy of building a highly qualified partnership to work on the M346 programme. HAI’s capabilities will be instrumental in rapidly achieving industrialisation and in supporting the future international success of the project, he says.

The Greek air force has a requirement for 40-45 advanced jet trainers to replace its Rockwell T-2C/E Buckeyes. Although Athens is looking for a solution within the framework of the proposed 12-nation Eurotraining programme, the need to retire its T-2s by 2010 is pushing the nation’s defence ministry to issue a request for proposals by late 2006 or early 2007, according to industry sources.

Aermacchi intends to offer an integrated training system also to include an embedded airborne tactical simulation capability and ground-based training systems, while Greek air force pilots could also undergo training in Italy under a proposed gap-filler solution.

LUCA PERUZZI / GENOA

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