ROME — The Netherlands Air Force has struck a deal with Italy to send F-35 pilots to train in Italy on the AleniaAermacchi M-346 jet trainer, officials said on Monday.

Following an agreement signed between the air forces last week, the Netherlands will send an instructor and two student pilots to Italy's training base at Lecce in southern Italy to train on the M-346, AleniaAermacchi said.

The first group could be followed by other pilots, the firm said.

A spokesman for the Italian Air Force said the pilots arriving would be future F-35 pilots.

Last December, the Italian Air Force signed to buy three M346 aircraft to add to the six it has already purchased. Italy has long term plans to buy a total of 15 of the trainers, known as the T-346A by the Italian Air Force.

The M-346 has been purchased by Singapore, Israel and Poland, with 59 aircraft ordered to date.