Leonardo’s M-346 Fighter Attack (FA) successfully completed its maiden flight equipped with the company’s GRIFO radar on 13 July, the company announced on 23 July. The aircraft offers multirole capabilities, delivering cost-effective training and combat functionality.
Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Managing Director of Leonardo Aircraft, stated “With this latest achievement, the most advanced training aircraft available on the market will soon be joined by the more versatile M-346 Fighter Attack. The M-346FA offers all of the advanced training capabilities of the core M-346 while also integrating latest-generation sensors and equipment, allowing it to operate as an effective light attack aircraft. We will now continue development as we prepare to deliver the first aircraft to its international launch customer in 2021.”
The aircraft’s primary sensor is Leonardo’s mechanically-scanned, multi-mode GRIFO-M-346 radar, a specially-optimised variant developed by Leonardo for the M-346FA – a reliable, high performance solution delivering great accuracy. The M-346FA is also protected by a complete Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS), while its high-end, network-centric communications suite – which incorporates a secure communications system and tactical datalink – ensures interoperability. The platform can also employ LINK-16 to be able to operate effectively with NATO forces.
The M-346FA can carry an extensive range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry (including IR, radar and/or laser/GPS guidance systems) and can be fitted with a gun pod, reconnaissance sensors and target designation pods as well as EW systems, all integrated with a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) for both pilots.
In the training domain, the M-346FA benefits from all the advanced features of the M-346 trainer, including the ability to integrate into live-virtual-constructive environments. This involves linking the real training aircraft in the sky with simulators on the ground and incorporating virtual friendly and opposing forces, allowing trainee pilots to confront a wide range of tactical scenarios. The trainer version of the M-346 is currently in service with the air forces of Israel, Italy, Poland and Singapore.