SHAH ALAM: As you aware the Paris Air Show is currently being held at Le Bourget, Paris. The biggest dedicated aviation and space industry event is being held from June 19 to June 29. Posted below are two aircraft displayed at the show which I found interesting and were related to our recent conversations though not necessarily relevant to our needs.
The two aircraft are Italian aerospace conglomerate, Leonardo namely the M-345 single engine jet trainer and the M-346FA multi-role twin jet trainer. Both made their debuts at Le Bourget this year.
Basically, the M-345 is the cheaper option compared to the twin-engine M-346 trainer. Though Leonardo did not diclose the price of the M-345, I am assuming that it will be around $15 million at least as the M-346 reportedly cost between $20 million to $30 million.
The aircraft displayed at Le Bourget is likely the sole prototype that first flew on Dec. 29, 2016 while the first flight of the first pre-series aircraft is envisaged by 2018. The Italian Air Force has already ordered a first batch of five aircraft and the first delivery is expected by 2019.
According to Leonardo:
The M-345 has a cockpit fully representative of the fighters, excellent external visibility. Thanks to its wide flight envelope with high maneuver capability at high speed and both low and high altitude, its modern avionic systems, the high load capacity and to its performance level, the M-345 can carry out also operational roles.
The aircraft’s long fatigue life, the maintenance philosophy organized only on two levels that eliminates the expensive general overhaul and the Health Usage and Monitoring System (HUMS) are the key elements that help to reduce the operating and life cycle costs of the M-345.
The engine is a turbofan Williams FJ44-4M-34 for military and aerobatic use. The cockpit is equipped with HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) commands, digital displays with three-colour touch screen MFD (Multi-function Display) and a Head-Up Display, that in the rear seat is replaced by a display repeater of images of the front HUD.
As for M-346FA:
The M-346 Fighter Attack will be equipped with a dedicated variant of the Grifo multi-mode fire control radar, designed and manufactured by Leonardo.
This new version of the M-346 will take its place next to the two existing variants of the aircraft: the Advanced Jet Trainer and the multi-role M-346FT (Fighter Trainer). Leonardo has already carried out the studies for the FA’s radar installation and its mechanical integration with the aircraft.
The M-346FA’s characteristics make it not only an excellent advanced trainer, but also a light fighter aircraft capable of carrying out operational missions at far lower costs than those of front-line fighters. Several air forces have already expressed their interest in it.
With seven pylons for external loads, the M-346FA will retain the excellent capabilities of the M-346 family in the advanced and pre-operational training roles, but will also be able to operate very effectively as multi-role tactical aircraft, capable of air-to-surface, air-to-air and tactical reconnaissance missions
The third line of the release indicates that Leonardo has not integrated the radar on an actual aircraft, they are likely going to wait for a contract first before cutting steel.
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