The Italian air force has taken delivery of its first two of 14 MB-339CD jet trainers to be upgraded to a "Batch 2" configuration by Alenia Aermacchi.

Flown from the manufacturer's Venegono plant near Milan to Lecce air base on 11 March, the aircraft have received modernised avionics including new identification friend or foe, communication and navigation equipment, says Alenia Aermacchi. "Deliveries under this contract will continue throughout 2009," it adds.

 MB-339CDs - Alenia Aermacchi
© Alenia Aermacchi

The Italian air force has an active inventory of 93 MB-339s, according to Flight's MiliCAS database. This includes Batch 1-standard CD-model aircraft that have been used to deliver Phase IV lead-in fighter training services since 1997.

Italy's upgraded aircraft will be used by the 61st Training Wing to deliver training requirements in areas including close air support, weapons delivery and the use of night vision goggles, Col Antonio Coppola, chief of the air force's training standardisation office, told IQPC's Military Flight Training conference in London last month.

 MB-339CD - Alenia Aermacchi
© Alenia Aermacchi

Alenia Aermacchi's next-generation M-346 advanced jet trainer is expected to achieve initial operational capability with the Italian air force in 2011, Coppola says.

Source: Flight International