The Italian-based international defense company Leonardo is introducing a new, Fighter Attack (FA) variant of their M-346 trainer, dedicated to combat missions. The new variant will be shown this week at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. According to the manufacturer, the new fighter-attack version is an evolution of a family concept of the M-346 Master, designed to create a common baseline, able to adapt and meet different requirements of air forces. Several air forces have already expressed their interest in the new variant, Leonardo said.
The new M-346FA version comes in addition to the Advanced Jet Trainer, already operational with several air forces, and the multi-role M-346FT that can assume advanced training role with operational training units (OTU).
The M-346 Fighter Attack differs from the baseline M-346 in its avionic configuration. The aircraft will retain all seven pylons for external loads, which will include a wider ordnance and pod capabilities including air-to-surface, air-to-air and tactical reconnaissance systems. The aircraft will be equipped with a dedicated variant of the Grifo-346 multi-mode fire control radar, designed and manufactured by Leonardo. The Grifo is a mechanical scan, multi-mode radar that supports multiple operating modes for air-to-air and air-to-surface.
The antenna will be optimized for the aircraft and incorporate the radar emitters and IFF dipoles. The Grifo-346 will be able to track up to 10 targets simultaneously in Track-While-Scan (TWS) mode, will have a maximum range beyond 50 NM (92 km) in the Look-Up mode and a sub-metric resolution in the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mode. The radar will feature seven Air-to-Air modes, six Air Combat modes, thirteen Air-to-Ground modes (including, for example, SAR, Inverse SAR, Ground Moving Target Indicator on SAR, Sea Moving Target Track) and three Navigation modes.
The company has already carried out the studies on the FA’s radar installation and its mechanical integration with the aircraft. The Rafael RecceLite reconnaissance pod is already integrated on the M-346.