Italian aerospace and defence company Leonardo has announced that the operational version of the M-346 Fighter Attack (M-346FA) has completed its first flight with Grifo radar.

The aircraft featured a mechanically scanning, multi-mode Grifo-M-346 radar, specifically designed by Leonardo for the M-346FA fighter.

The M-346FA is also equipped with a complete Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS) and a network-centric communications suite with secure communications system and tactical data link for interoperability.

Leonardo Aircraft managing director Lucio Valerio Cioffi said: “I am extremely pleased with the work we have done to achieve this important milestone and the pace at which we have reached it.

“With this latest achievement, the most advanced training aircraft available on the market will soon be joined by the more versatile M-346 Fighter Attack.

“The M-346FA offers all of the advanced training capabilities of the core M-346 while also integrating latest generation sensors and equipment, allowing it to operate as an effective light attack aircraft.”

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The M-346FA is designed as a light attack variant from Leonardo’s M-346 Light Fighter Family of Aircraft (LFFA). The aircraft can be used for training, as well as for combat missions.

It can carry GPS-guided / laser / unguided air-to-air and air-surface weapons, bombs, and targeting pods. Additionally, the operator may equip the fighter jet with a gun pod and reconnaissance sensors based on operational requirements.

The training variant of M-346FA allows the pilots to upskill themselves on a wide range of tactical scenarios.

Currently, the trainer version is used by the airforces of Italy, Singapore, Israel and Poland.

Leonardo noted that an international customer has already placed an order for the M-346FA aircraft. The company aims to deliver the first unit next year.