The Italian Air Force’s world-renowned excellence in flight training and Leonardo’s leadership in delivering proven integrated training solutions, come together to create the International Training Flight School (IFTS). Announced at the Farnborough International Air Show 2018, the agreement was signed at an official ceremony held in July 2018. The collaboration between Leonardo and the Italian Air Force would be further extended to training of pilots in the fixed-wing, rotary-wing and unmanned domains. Leonardo is the leading international training solutions provider, with products covering the entire training syllabus from basic, with the new M-345, to advanced and lead-in fighter training with the M-346.
The IFTS will leverage the existing training assets and expertise in advanced military pilot training of the Italian Air Force in addition to Leonardo supplying four additional M-346 aircraft, new systems and services starting from 2019. Based on the current plan, the IFTS will be able to deliver courses for Italian Air Force and international Air Force crews, fulfilling the training demands for military pilots worldwide. Starting from 2021, the Italian Air Force’s entire advanced and pre-operational training syllabus will be moved to a new, dedicated facility. In order to maximize the success of this initiative, Leonardo has been in discussions with two major international players and leading companies in the training sector, Babcock International Group Plc and CAE, with the aim to reinforce IFTS capabilities.
The IFTS aim, when fully operational around d 2021, is to double the current capabilities of the so-called 4th phase of the training syllabus from around 35-40 to 70-80 pilots per year with the support of 45 instructors including both 25 national and 20 international instructors. Leonardo will provide the IFTS four M346 in 2019 in addition to the 18 aircraft already delivered to the Italian Air Force. Leonardo will be teamed with CAE and Babcock to provide the services within the IFTS.The Italian Air Force’s advanced training syllabus, based around Leonardo’s innovative integrated training system, has already been demonstrated to be modular and versatile among pilots of several nations and meeting the needs of different air forces. The syllabus meets the requirements of Air Forces whose trainees have undertaken training modules for fourth and fifth generation fighters with the 61° Stormo at Galatina Air Base (Lecce).
Leonardo’s integrated training system is based on the M-346 jet, designated the T-346A by the Italian Air Force. It is the backbone of the 61° Wing, which trains pilots and instructors from Italy and nations such as the USA, Spain, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Argentina, Greece and Kuwait. The M-346 has already been purchased by Italy, Israel, Singapore and Poland for a combined order book of 72 units. Operational training, carried out by the Italian Air Force with the T-346A, prepares pilots to transition to the latest-generation combat aircraft including the Eurofighter and the F-35. The Galatina Air Force Base is also equipped with live-virtual-constructive (LVC) training technologies, including advanced CAE-built M-346 full-mission simulators. Leonardo’s LVC enables trainees on the ground to interact with pilots in the air, flying real aircraft, during the same training missions.