Finmeccanica invites Warsaw to join in Alenia Aermacchi trainer project, with an eye on gaining industrial foothold

Italy's Finmeccanica has stepped up efforts to establish an industrial foothold in Poland, with several of the group's subsidiaries promoting their equipment to the Polish military earlier this month. The key presentation involved the deployment of Alenia Aermacchi's second prototype M-346 advanced jet/lead-in fighter trainer to the Polish air force academy in Deblin, ahead of a year-end deadline to secure workshare on the programme.

Alenia Aermacchi last year sent an M-346 to Poland to support an initial offer to form a co-operation based on the developmental platform, as well as simulators, technical and logistics support and ground crew training services. The proposal has now been bolstered by strong support from the Finmeccanica group, with eight of the Polish air force's instructors also given the chance to fly the aircraft from 2-4 October.

© Flight International/Craig Hoyle 
 Alenia Aermacchi sent its M-346 trainer to the Polish air force academy

Formal involvement in the M-346 programme would require an investment worth €60 million ($75 million) from the Polish government to finance the activities of local industry during ground and flight testing and software development work. Other areas of potential co-operation include developing the aircraft's integrated logistics system and in supporting the design, manufacture and procurement of equipment, systems and structural assemblies.

With low-rate initial production of the M-346 scheduled to start in 2007, Warsaw has until the end of this year to make a decision on joining the programme. However, Alenia Aermacchi general manager Massimo Lucchessini says: "Even a decision taken next year will not be too late. We are open for proposals and are waiting for other participants in the M-346 programme."

Finmeccanica also hopes to establish a repair and modernisation centre for RSK MiG-29 fighters and Mil Mi-8/17 transport helicopters in eastern Europe its Galileo Avionica subsidiary presented Poland with a €3-5 million lightweight version of its Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance system for possible integration with the Mi-8/17.

Source: Flight International