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PICTURE: Chile's ENAER signs M-346 pact with Alenia Aermacchi

Alenia Aermacchi has signed a memorandum of understanding with Chilean manufacturer ENAER covering co-operative marketing and possible production of its M-346 advanced and M-311 basic jet trainers for Latin American air forces.

The Finmeccanica company has previously cited Chile as a possible buyer for its M-346 design, which is being jointly displayed at this week's FIDAE air show in Santiago. The nation's air force is seeking a near-term replacement for its CASA C-101s for roles including lead-in fighter training and close air support, with its active inventory of the Spanish-built type comprising around 30 C-101s, according to Flight's MiliCAS database.

© Alenia Aermacchi

"The agreement confirms Alenia Aermacchi's strategy for an internationalisation of the M-346 programme through a strong partnership in South America," says chief executive Carmelo Cosentino. Chilean interest in the twin-engined type was underlined by a visit at the show by the nation's president Michelle Bachelet, he says, adding: "We believe the partnership with Chile is a great competitive edge."

Alenia Aermacchi signed a similar MoU with Greek firm Hellenic Aerospace Industries in 2006, with this covering technology transfer and joint research activities linked to Athens' possible future purchase of the M-346. The company is, meanwhile, expected to roll out the first production-standard example of the M-346 at its Venegono site near Milan next week, having late last year received a launch order to produce 14 for the Italian air force.


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