The Italian Experimental Flight Center carried out the first flight tests of the Leonardo Aircraft Aermacchi T-345A aircraft which will represent the future of the Italian Air Force’s training and acrobatic aircraft. The acquisition of the Italian industry’s new flagship represents an important step in the modernization of the trainer fleet of the service, which will use it in place of the Aermacchi MB-339 A aircraft, for the execution of the 2nd and 3rd phase of the training syllabus of a military pilot. It will also be used as the new platform of the National Acrobatic Patrol (PAN).
The Aermacchi T-345A is a HET (High Efficiency Trainer) aircraft designed to offer the performance and efficiency typical of jet planes but at costs comparable to those of turboprop training aircraft. It is highly performing and designed to be effective and reliable, capable of facilitating pilots’ transition from basic trainers to the latest-generation fighters. The M-345 is the latest iteration of a design path that began with the Pratt & Whitney JT15D-powered SIAI-Marchetti S-211 that was first flown in April 1981, and which was sold to Haiti, the Philippines, and Singapore. The design was revamped in the early 2000s by Aermacchi as the M-311, which evolved further into the M-345 HET.
Leonardo has produced an aircraft that can perform basic/advanced training and has been proposed to a number of customers as part of an overall training package, along with the M-346 advanced/lead-in fighter trainer. Powered by a Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan, the M-345 employs a fighter-style glass cockpit with three color touchscreen displays and a HUD (head-up display) repeater screen in the rear cockpit. The aircraft has HOTAS (hands-on-throttle-and-stick) controls and a mission planning system. It has embedded virtual training capability and a datalink that can connect it to simulator networks.
The Italian Air Force, the launch customer, has a requirement for up to 45 M-345s (designated the T-345A by ITAF) to progressively replace 137 MB-339s, which first entered service in 1982, and to become the Italian Air Force’s new aerobatic team airplane. The customer has so far placed an order for five aircraft and the first will be delivered in early 2020. The new M-345s will integrate the M-346s used during the advanced training phase of the Italian Air Force’s pilots. Through the International Flight Training School the Air Force will be able to strengthen its training school’s growth and internationalization while increasing at the same time capabilities and services offered to customers.