The Italian Air Force is expected to award a contract to trainer aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica company, for the delivery of 15 M-346 advanced jet trainers.

Following the successful contractual agreement with the Italian Air Force, the company plans to launch full-rate production of the M346 in 2010.

The deal could also lead to the completion of negotiations to supply 48 M346 trainers and light attack fighters to the United Arab Emirates and could also sway Singapore’s military, who are currently deciding between the M346 and the KAI/Lockheed Martin T-50 for a potential order of 10-15 trainers.

The combat aircraft trainer is well suited to every phase of advanced and pre-operational training, to reduce flight hours on the more expensive aircraft.

M-346 features a Fly-by-Wire control system that allows the aircraft to remain fully controllable at angles of attack over 35°. In addition the trainer aircraft integrates digital avionics with the ability to simulate sensors and threats in flight.