A demonstrator of Alenia's new M-345 trainer was flown at Farnborough. (Alenia Aermacchi)
FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND — One year after announcing it at the Paris Air Show, Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi has flown a demonstrator of its new basic advanced M-345 trainer at the Farnborough International Airshow.
After promising a rapid development and entry into service by 2017, Alenia is now close to selecting the propulsion and avionics suppliers for the aircraft, which is being co-developed with the Italian Air Force.
“We are in the final stages of selection,” said an official.
Alenia has said the new aircraft will fly with a 1,600-kilogram thrust engine, a head-up display and embedded tactical training simulation. It is being developed to replace the Italian Air Force’s MB339 jet trainer, and to serve as the lead up to Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 trainer, which the Air Force has acquired.
The larger M-346 trainer flies with a Honeywell engine and Selex ES avionics.
Alenia is competing the M-346 in the US TX trainer competition, and the firm’s chief test pilot, Enrico Scarabotto, said that a team was headed to the US next month to demonstrate the ground-based training system Alenia has developed around the aircraft.
At Farnborough, the M-346 on display boasted a laser pod, fuel tanks and armaments, which Scarabotto said reflected growing interest in the aircraft as a light fighter.
At the show, Alenia also demonstrated its ground-based training system, which allows pilots flying a simulator to “share” airspace with real aircraft flying at the time.
A pilot at the show flying a simulator “approached” and locked on to a real M-346 performing a flight display above Farnborough at that moment. ■