Leonardo delivered the first two M-345 jet trainer aircraft to the Italian Air Force on 22 December. The aircraft are destined to gradually replace the MB-339s, in service since 1982.
Designated T-345A by the service, which has so far ordered 18 of what is believed to be a requirement for 45 aircraft, the aircraft is designed to meet requirements for both basic and basic-advanced pilot training and to complement the in-service M-346, which offers advanced training. Leonardo’s integrated training system, developed around the M-345 platform, benefits from experience with, and technology developed for, the M-346, which includes a live-virtual-constructive capability. This allows aircraft flying live training missions to incorporate simulated friendly or hostile elements into scenarios, allowing the pilot to be exposed to the full range of possible operational situations.
“Building on our heritage and expertise in jet trainers, the M-345 will allow our customers to achieve a significant improvement in training effectiveness while at the same time reducing operating costs. This first delivery to the Italian Air Force is a key milestone, the result of a longstanding and productive team working closely together with the operator,” explained Managing Director of Leonardo Aircraft, Marco Zoff.
The M-345 supports a pilot’s transition from basic trainers to latest-generation fighters and its acquisition is an important milestone in the Italian Air Force’s fleet modernisation efforts. The aircraft has also been chosen as the new platform for the Air Force’s acrobatic team, the ‘Frecce Tricolori.’