After initial operational flight tests were complete at Pratica di Mare, the first two M-346s built for the Italian Air Force returned to Alenia Aermacchi's plant at Venegono. The aircraft will be updated to full trainer configuration for service with the 61st Wing at Lecce AB, home of the air force flight school.
Alenia Aermacchi's production process is designed to complete up to four M-346 aircraft per month. Lead-time to build an aircraft (producing parts, joining the major parts and final assembly) at full-rate production is 12 months.
The beautiful sleek symmetry of the frontal view of a fully-prepped M-346 ready for the runway.
Commander Olinto Cecconello, who has over 9,000 flying hours including more than 700 with the M-346, undertook the maiden flights of both M-346 prototypes.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force is the first M-346 export customer.
To date over 2,000 hours have been flown by the two M-346 prototypes and pre-production series aircraft.
At the beginning of January 2012, the first two M-346s (designated T-346A by the Italian Air Force) were delivered to the Reparto Sperimentale di Volo (Flight Test Wing) at Pratica di Mare AB for the type's initial operational test and evaluation.
A test pilot from 311° Gruppo of the Italian Air Force Reparto Sperimentale di Volo carries out pre-flight checks on an M-346 during the type's initial operational test and evaluation.
The current Italian Air Force plan anticipates teaching the first class of students on the M-346 during the first half of 2014.
The pilot-aircraft interface (colour multifunctional displays, head-up display, hands on throttle and stick controls) allows the student to train in a cockpit similar to the frontline fighter aircraft he or she will eventually fly.
In addition to the aircraft, the main elements of the M-346 integrated training system are computer-aided instruction and computer-based training, full mission simulators and part task trainers, as well as mission support stations used for planning and debriefing.
M-346 SPECIFICATIONS AND THREE-VIEW