Alenia Aermacchi has rolled-out the Israeli Air & Space Force’s first M-346 Master advanced/lead-in fighter trainer aircraft in a ceremony held at its plant in Venegono Superiore, Italy.
A total of 30 M-346 trainers were ordered by the Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD) from Alenia under a $1bn government-to-government deal in July 2012.
The contract also included the supply of engines, maintenance, logistics, simulators and training support, in collaboration with other Israeli and foreign companies, including TOR and Honeywell.
Scheduled to be called ‘Lavi’ in the IAF service, the aircraft will replace the air force’s ageing American Douglas TA-4 Skyhawks fleet, which had served as the training apparatus for more than 40 years.
Based on the Russian Yak-130 combat trainer, the M-346 Master is a military transonic trainer aircraft designed to offer combat pilot training for frontline fighters with high angle-of-attack capability.
Powered by two Honeywell F124 engines, the fighter features a fly-by-wire control system to enable the aircraft to remain fully controllable at angles of attack of more than 35°, and an integrated digital avionics suite with an ability to simulate sensors and threats in flight.
The aircraft’s avionics are based on those used in current fighters, including the F-16, F-18 and other new-generation aircraft, such as Typhoon, Gripen, Rafale, F-22, and the F-35 joint strike fighter (JSF).
Already operational with Italy and Singapore, the aircraft has also been ordered by the Polish Air Force.
Delivery of the first two M-346s is scheduled for summer 2014, followed by an additional seven aircraft this year and 18 in 2015, and the remainder in 2016, FlightGlobal reports.
Image: Israeli Air & Space Force’s first M-346 Master aircraft at Alenia Aermacchi’s plant in Venegono Superiore, Italy. Photo: © 2012 Alenia Aermacchi – A Finmeccanica Company.