The first two M-346 advanced trainers rolled out today from the Alenia Aermacchi assembly line at the company’s factory at Venegono Superiore near Varese, in North Western Italy. The two are leading planes from the first batch of six aircraft on order for the Italian Air Force. The facility operates a highly automated production line currently processing four additional aircraft for the Italian Air Force aircraft and 12 trainers ordered by the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
After inspection and testing the aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to the Experimental Flying Unit at Pratica di Mare Air Force Base, near Rome, where they will undergo operational evaluation testing. During 2011 the Italian Air Force will receive the other four aircraft, becoming the world’s first air force equipped with the new advanced trainer.
The T-346A, (as the Italian Air Force designate the M-346) is considered among the market leading advanced trainers, designed for training fighter pilots destined to fly the latest 4th and 5th generation fighters.
The UAE has already selected the aircraft for the establishment of a large scale training center in the emirate. The Italian trainer has also been selected as one of two finalists of the next Israel Air Force trainer, and is also bidding for a similar programs in Poland. It is actively promoted by Italy and Germany as the successor of the Alpha-Jet, after the retirement of the Franco-German trainer. M-346 is also being proposed as a new trainer for the U.S. Air Force.