The M-345 trainer prototype, which first flew on December 21, 2018. Leonardo has been awarded a contract for 13 additional M-345s for the Italian Air Force. Leonardo
ITALY HAS placed an order for an additional 13 M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer)/T-345A aircraft. Leonardo announced the deal on June 13, stating that a 300 million Euro contract to supply the aircraft to the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI – Italian Air Force) had been signed the previous day with the Armaments and Airworthiness Department of the Italian Ministry of Defence. The contract includes ground-based training systems and a five-year logistics support package. This follows an initial contract for five aircraft for the AMI, announced on January 13, 2017, bringing the number of these trainers ordered by Italy to 18.
Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo said: “This contract for the M-345 is the result of the constructive dialogue between industry and the Italian Ministry of Defence, leading to a thorough understanding of their needs and to jointly identify the best technological solution. In line with our Industrial Plan we are devoting significant effort to the development of our training business, both in terms of platforms, ground capabilities and services. Thanks to our fruitful partnership with the Italian Ministry of Defence and the progressive introduction of the M-345, Italy will see the establishment of an advanced international training academy for military pilots.”
Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Managing Director of Leonardo Aircraft Division, said: “With its high performance and advanced integrated training system, the M-345 will significantly improve the effectiveness of the Air Force’s training, improve efficiency and reduce operating costs. The new aircraft, the first of which is expected to be delivered in 2020, will join the Air Force’s fleet of 18 twin-engine Aermacchi M-346s based at the Italian Air Force’s Galatina base near Lecce in the Southern Italy, which have already been delivered to provide the advanced phase of pilot training.”
The Italian Air Force has identified a requirement for around 45 M-345 aircraft (AMI designation T-345A) to progressively replace its fleet of 137 MB-339s, that have been in service since 1982. It will also become the new platform of Italy’s National Aerobatic Team (Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale – PAN), the Frecce Tricolori. The first production M-345 successfully performed its maiden flight on December 21, 2018.