The Italian Air Force has ordered nine Finmeccanica Aermacchi M-346 jet trainers for €300 million euros, taking its total fleet to 18 aircraft.

The first of the new batch of trainers will be delivered this year and deliveries will be completed in 2018, Finmeccanica said in a March 22 statement on March 22.

The contract covers logistic support and "an additional development phase" in training related to digital training aids, simulators and infrastructure at the Italian Air Force's Lecce base in southern Italy where the M-346s are based.

A total of 68 aircraft have now been ordered by Italy, Israel, Singapore and Poland.

"It has won all the most important international bids and we are offering it as the platform on which the new American Top Guns' trainer aircraft could be based," said Finmeccanica CEO Mauro Moretti, referring to the US TX jet trainer bid.

Finmeccanica has said that the delay in the latest M-346 order from Italy was a reason behind a dip in its aeronautics orders last year.

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