The contract was awarded by the Italian Ministry of Defence ’s armaments and airworthiness department. It will bring the number of M-345 trainers ordered by Italian Air Force to 18.
Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo said: “In line with our industrial plan, we are devoting significant effort to the development of our training business, both in terms of platforms, ground capabilities and services.
“Thanks to our fruitful partnership with the Italian Ministry of Defence and the progressive introduction of the M-345, Italy will see the establishment of an advanced international training academy for military pilots.”
Leonardo previously won an initial award to deliver five aircraft. Ground-based training systems and a five-year logistics support package are included in the current contract.
The new M-345 trainer aircraft will augment the existing T-346A fleet based at the Italian Air Force Base Galatina near Lecce in southern Italy. The T-346A aircraft are used to provide advanced pilot training.
Leonardo Aircraft Division managing director Lucio Valerio Cioffi said: “With its high performance and advanced integrated training system, the M-345 will significantly improve the effectiveness of the Air Force’s training, improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.
“The new aircraft, the first of which is expected to be delivered in 2020, will join the air force’s fleet of 18 twin-engine Aermacchi M-346s based at the Italian Air Force’s Galatina base near Lecce in Southern Italy, which have already been delivered to provide the advanced phase of pilot training.”
The Italian Air Force seeks to procure around 45 M-345 trainer aircraft to replace the service’s fleet of 137 MB-339s that joined service in 1982.
The M-345s will become the new platform of Italy’s national aerobatic team Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN).
Leonardo completed the initial flight of the first production aircraft in December last year.
The M-345 offers high performance and features an advanced integrated training system. It is designed to improve training efficiency and reduce operating costs.