Leonardo awarded €300 million
Leonardo has signed a contract with the Armaments and Airworthiness Department of the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the supply of 13 M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) aircraft, for a total value of €300 million. This follows an initial contract for five aircraft bringing to 18 the number of M-345 trainers ordered by Italy. The contract includes ground-based training systems and a five year logistics support package.
“This contract for the M-345 is the result of the constructive dialogue between industry and the Italian MoD, leading to a thorough understanding of their needs and to jointly identify the best technological solution,” Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, said. “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 MoD and the progressive introduction of the M-345, Italy will see the establishment of an advanced international training academy for military pilots.”
“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,” Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Managing Director of Leonardo Aircraft Division, continued. “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 (designated the T-345A) to progressively replace its fleet of 137 MB-339s, that have been in service since 1982, and to become the new platform of Italy’s National Aerobatic Team (Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN).
The M-345 has already raised the interest of many air forces worldwide. The first production aircraft successfully performed its maiden flight on 21 December 2018 delivering excellent performance. The performance of the M-345 allows it to carry out the most demanding mission types found in a training syllabus, delivering high quality training at a significantly lower cost. The M-345 cockpit architecture is the same as the frontline fighters. The M-345 can also perform operational roles, thanks to an extended flight envelope, with high-speed manoeuvring capability, even at high altitudes; modern avionics systems, high load capacity and performance.
The M-345 is designed with a long life-cycle and an approach to maintenance based on just two levels, eliminating the need for expensive general overhauls. The aircraft’s Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) also contributes to a lower cost of ownership. A sophisticated on-board training simulator delivers a number of benefits. For instance, M-345 pilots are able to plan manoeuvres before live training, allowing for higher efficiency during flight. Trainees are also able to fly in formation with other pilots in the air and on the ground in simulators, via a real-time data-link. The aircraft’s Mission Planning and Debriefing Station (MPDS) allows trainees to analyze the missions they have just flown.
The M-345’s engine is a turbofan Williams FJ44-4M-34 optimised for military and aerobatics use. The cockpit is based on HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls and features a glass cockpit with a three-colour MFD (Multi-function Display) touch screen. The aircraft’s heads-up display is mirrored by a fourth screen in the rear seat.