With the arrival of the Aermacchi M-345 training aircraft, the Russian Yak-130 has gained more and more rivals in the international aviation market.
According to Jane’s 360 military magazine, the Italian Air Force will receive a further 13 Alenia Aermacchi M-345 High Efficiency Trainer aircraft under a 300 million Euro contract with Leonardo. The contract, announced on June 13, 2019, adds to the five aircraft previously ordered under plans to replace the Italian Air Force’s current 137 MB-339s and augment its 18 M-346s. Deliveries of the first five M-345s are due to begin in early 2020, while the Italian Air Force retains a total requirement for 45 M-345 High Efficiency Trainer aircraft.
First revealed in 2013, the M-345 High Efficiency Trainer is a development of the baseline M-345 jet trainer, which was a redesignation of the Aermacchi M-311.
According to the manufacturer, M-345 was developed based on the consolidated experience gained by Aircraft Division in designing and manufacturing its wide family of trainer aircraft in the past 60 years, delivers the superior performance and training effectiveness typical of a jet aircraft at costs comparable to high-powered turboprop trainers. Aimed at the basic-advanced phases of the pilot training syllabus, the M-345 offers high efficiency and low acquisition and operating costs.
The M-345 has an overall length of 9.85m, wingspan of 8.47m, and height of 3.74m. The wing area of the aircraft is 12.6m2. The aircraft has an empty weight of 3,300kg and a maximum take-off weight of 4,500kg. The external load carrying capability makes the M-345 suitable for secondary missions. Up to 1,000 kg of weapons on five hardpoints, including gunpods, bombs, and rockets.
Designed for training purposes, the M-345 is a small tandem two-seat shoulder-wing monoplane, the student and trainer are seated under a single-piece, lightly framed tandem-seat cockpit aft of a short nosecone.
The fully digital glass-cockpit is equipped with Hands On Throttle-And-Stick controls and three LCD multi-function displays for instructor and student pilot. The forward cockpit is fitted with a Head Up Display, while the rear cockpit is installed with a Head Up Display repeater. Other features of the cockpit include Night Vision Goggles compatibility along with an integrated Global Positioning System or Inertial Navigation System, digital moving map, and two mission computers.
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The strengthened airframe offers fatigue life of 15,000 flight hours, the tricycle landing gear of the training aircraft can be fully retracted. The wing mainplanes are shoulder-mounted and feature boundary layer fences for added control. The empennage is dominated by a single vertical fin set over the engine exhaust port. Horizontal planes are featured at the base of the fin.
The M-345 is powered by a single Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan. It is based on the earlier Aermacchi S-211, with the addition of both structural and equipment improvements. This engine developing a maximum thrust of 3,500lb at take-off. Performance specifications include a maximum speed of 740 kmh with a range out to 1,410 kilometers and a service ceiling up to 12,190 meters and Rate-of-climb is 23.97 m/s. The lengths of ground run required for take-off and landing of the aircraft are 460m and 450m respectively.
Leonardo revealed, with the aircraft’s sophisticated embedded training simulation system, the pilot will see his training mission enhanced by a series of events which will have been arranged in the planning phase including other airplanes interacting with the mission itself and connected via data link with flying assets, ground simulator and other simulation devices. The system also envisages the presence of a Mission Planning and Debriefing Station, with which it is possible to prepare mission scenarios, upload and download data, and review the missions carried out in the debriefing phase.
Promoted with the same cost as turboprop aircraft but that delivers superior performance, Leonardo ‘s training jet has piqued the interest of many Air Forces.