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Leonardo and CAE have created a joint venture (Leonardo CAE Advanced Jet Training Srl) to support operations of the International Flight Training School (IFTS) in Italy, the companies announced on 29 March.

The joint venture will provide training support services, including full maintenance and operation of the M-346 aircraft and its ground-based training system (GBTS), as well as operation of IFTS base facilities. The IFTS is a unique partnership between the Italian Air Force and Leonardo, created to deliver a comprehensive ‘lead-in to fighter’ training service to the Italian and foreign customers. The IFTS advanced training programme, based on the Phase IV of the Italian Air Force syllabus, can rely on the M-346 GBTS, including the full-mission simulator jointly developed by Leonardo and CAE. The IFTS is currently located at Galatina in southern Italy and will relocate to Decimomannu in Sardinia next year.

Our commitment to deliver to the IFTS customers a best-in-class training capability is further demonstrated by the choice of CAE as our IFTS partner. The joint venture represents the ideal framework to further leverage our successful collaboration on the M-346 ground-based training system, while ensuring us the agility and flexibility to meet challenging and tailored customer requirements,” commented Leonardo Aircraft Division Managing Director, Marco Zoff. “Leonardo, CAE and the Italian Air Force’s world-renowned excellence will guarantee advanced top-level training for the modern air forces at reduced cost in order to satisfy a growing demand in advanced flight training.”

The joint venture will manage and conduct day-to-day operations of the IFTS, which will operate a fleet of 22 M-346s, featuring a range of embedded training capabilities enabling extensive live, virtual and constructive training. Training will be delivered by a cadre of active-duty Italian Air Force and highly experienced international former military instructor pilots.

CAE and Leonardo have a longstanding industrial relationship [which] will support the M-346 Integrated Training System, which is a pivotal element of a modern and innovative Lead-In to Fighter Training (LIFT) programme for next generation pilots,” observed Marc-Olivier Sabourin, VP/General Manager, Defence & Security International, CAE.

Training will progressively transfer to a purpose-built facility at Decimomannu AFB in Sardinia from 2022. (Image via Leonardo)

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