The Aermacchi M-345 is a turbofan-powered military trainer aircraft. It is a development of the SIAI Marchetti S.211. During 1997, Italian aircraft manufacturer Aermacchi acquired SIAI Marchetti; this purchase included the rights to the latter’s S-211, a jet-powered trainer aircraft. In 2004, the company announced its intention to develop an improved version of the S-211, then referred to as the M-311. At the time, Aermacchi was also developing the M-346 Master, which serves as a lead-in fighter trainer; considerably smaller than the M-346, it was intended to perform both the basic and advanced training syllabus, as well as tactical training functions, as an alternative to single-engined turboprop-powered competitors.
During 2012, the M-311 was revised, updated and re-designated by Alenia Aermacchi as the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer).During October 2014, it was announced that the Williams International FJ44-4M turbofan engine had been selected to power the in-development trainer, having overcome rivaling bids from both Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney. Shortly thereafter, Alenia Aermacchi began installing the 3,400lb-thrust FJ44-4M onto its flight-test aircraft, replacing the existing P&W Canada JT15D units. The M-345 first flew on 29 December 2016. During January 2017, the first order for the type was placed by the Italian Air Force. The first production-standard M-345 was flown from Venegono Superiore in December 2018.
The Aermacchi M-345 is a compact twin-seat shoulder-wing monoplane trainer aircraft. It is based on the earlier SIAI-Marchetti S.211, which features both structural and equipment improvements, and new systems. The airframe has been strengthened, while a glass cockpit and modern avionics have been installed. It is furnished with a retractable tricycle landing gear, powered by a single Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan engine. As a basic trainer, the M-345 is designed to complement the Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainer. the M-345 is also suited for secondary close air support roles, with the capability to employ weapons like IR air-to-air missiles, gun pod, rockets and 500 lb class bombs.
Based on the latest M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer experience and matching the standards of the most modern combat jets, M-345’s avionics include the latest human-machine interface with HOTAS controls, Head-Up Displays (HUD), Multi-Function Displays (MFD), while the on board Embedded Tactical Training Simulation (ETTS) system allows the whole spectrum of simulated training functions in flight with a link to a LVC, Live Virtual, Constructive environment. Life-cycle-cost reduction is driven by long fatigue life and low level of maintenance, the latter made possible by the Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) that eliminates the most expensive maintenance activities.