Alenia Aermacchi's M-345 High Efficiency Trainer at the Paris Air Show. (Alenia Aermacchi)
PARIS — Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi presented a new basic-advanced jet trainer on Tuesday — the M-345 HET — that it claims will cost less than a turbo prop to buy and cost the same to run.
The presentation at the Paris Air Show coincided with the signing by CEO Giuseppe Giordo of a letter of intent with Italy’s procurement chief to jointly develop the trainer, with a possible entry into service with the Italian Air Force between 2017 and 2020.
The M-345 represents an upgrade to its planned, but never built, M-311 trainer, which in turn was a development of the S-211, sold to the Philippines. The new upgrade, which is dubbed the High Efficiency Trainer (HET) and will have a new engine, was on display at the Paris Air Show.
The new aircraft will fly with a 1,600-kilogram thrust engine, a heads-up display and embedded tactical training simulation.
The aircraft is being developed to replace the Italian Air Force’s MB-339 jet trainer, and to serve as the lead up to Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 trainer, which the Air Force has already acquired.
Giordo said development would cost less than US $100 million and take two years. “There is a limited amount of money and we must respect the schedule,” he said.
Apart from being designed to replaced the MB-339, the M-345 HET will be pitched at air forces replacing first generation Hawks, the Alpha Jet and the L-39 Albatros, a spokesman said.
“Air forces are tending to replace these aircraft with turboprops, but we believe the M-345 will be cheaper and offer the same operating costs,” he said.
Giordo said he predicted a global market of 200 aircraft.
The spokesman also claimed the new, low cost jet could find favor with the French Air Force as it seeks to create a two-tier training system.
“This is perfect for France’s possible need for a trainer, which they they have said could be a turbo prop, in a two-tier system,” he said.
Separately, Giordo said Alenia Aermacchi is not interested in building basic, screener trainers. “We believe such a product must be very lost cost, less than €150,000 (US $200,000), and Alenia Aermacchi cannot afford to produce such a product,” he said. ■
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