Finmeccanica has secured a €300m contract to supply Aermacchi advanced M-346 aircraft from the Italian Ministry of Defence.
Under the terms of the agreement, the company will supply an additional nine M-346 aircraft for the Italian Air Force, bringing the total ordered by Italy to 18.
Additionally, the contract covers provision for logistics support and an additional development phase of the advanced integrated training systems, which include digital training aids, simulators and infrastructure at the Lecce-Galatina Air Force base.
Finmeccanica CEO and general manager Mauro Moretti said: "The Aermacchi M-346 is the most advanced trainer aircraft available on the market today, the only one in the world designed to train pilots who will go on to fly new-generation, high performance defence aircraft.
"It has won all the most important international bids and we have chosen it to be in the running to be the platform on which the new American Top Guns’ trainer aircraft will be based."
Delivery under the contract is expected to commence this year and continue through 2018.
The M-346 is the most advanced/lead-in fighter trainer designed to provide advanced and pre-operational training to pilots to fly new-generation combat aircraft.
The aircraft features a Fly-by-Wire control system that allows the aircraft to remain fully controllable at angles of attack over 35° as well as an integrated digital avionics suite with the ability to simulate sensors and threats in flight.
The aircraft avionics are based on new-generation military aircraft such as Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, F-16, F-18, F-22 and the future joint strike fighter (JSF).
The new-generation advanced and lead-in fighter trainer M-346 has a high thrust-to-weight ratio of about 1:1 and can be used in all phases of advanced and pre-operational training to reduce the flight hours in more expensive aircraft.
So far, the company has secured contracts to deliver a total of 68 Aermacchi M-346 aircrafts to the air forces of Italy, Israel, Singapore and Poland.
Image: Finmeccanica will supply additional nine M-346 aircraft for the Italian Air Force, bringing the total ordered by Italy to 18. Photo: © 2016 – Finmeccanica S.p.a.