After completing maiden flight of the Aermacchi M-345 basic jet trainer aircraft recently, Leonardo has won the first order for the type from Italian Air Force.
A contract to supply an initial batch of five aircraft was signed with Italian Defense Ministry. First delivery is expected to start by 2019.
The Italian Air Force has a total requirement for around 45 M-345s (designated as T-345 by the Italian Armed Forces) to gradually replace the 137 in-service MB-339 aircraft which entered into operation in 1982.
The new aircraft will complement the fleet of 18 twin-engine Aermacchi M-346s already ordered and currently used by the Air Force for the advanced phase of pilot training stage.
Dubbed the High Efficiency Trainer, the M-345 is designed to be a low-cost trainer aircraft with acquisition and life cycle costs comparable to its turboprop powered competitors, to impart basic and intermediate stage of flight training for military pilots, before moving to the advanced stage.
Key to its low operating and maintenance cost is the Williams FJ44-4M medium by-pass turbofan engine with a rated thrust of 3400 lbs.
The glass cockpit is equipped HUD (Head Up Display) in the front cockpit, a HUD repeater in the rear cockpit, three Multi-Function Displays in each cockpits and HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls similar to present generation fighter jets.