Finmeccanica has commenced the final assembly of the Polish Air Force's first two Aermacchi M-346 advanced / lead-in fighter trainer aircraft at its Aircraft Division facility in Venegono Superiore, Varese, Italy.
The development is part of a contract secured by the company from the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) to supply eight aircraft and associated logistic support.
The purchase order, placed by the MoD in 2014, is part of a modernisation effort aimed at replacing the Polish Air Force's ageing fleet of TS-11 Iskra aircraft.
Additionally, the contract covers a training programme for pilots and engineers, a ground-based training system with dedicated classrooms and educational materials that includes a full mission simulator.
Delivery under the contract is expected to take place in November this year.
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 lead-in fifth-generation 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 that enables the simulation of sensors and threats during 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).
Currently, the air forces of Italy, Israel and the Republic of Singapore operate M-346 aircraft.
Image: The M-346 aircraft in a hanger. Photo: © 2016 Finmeccanica S.p.a.