UAE choose the M346


KUALA LUMPUR: After years of hesitation (perhaps because they do no want the Hawk and the other aircraft were not ready), the UAE finally decided to opt for the Aermacchi M346 it was announced at the current IDEX 09. The M346 was originally came about from the collaboration of Aermacchi and Russian Yak firm.

It was a big victory for the Italian firm initially thought to be second best to the offer by Korean Aerospace , the T50, which shared a common heritage with UAE’s Block 60 F16 fleet. Malaysian Defence believes the Korean continuing development with the T50 together with its increasing closer ties with the Israeli had much to do with the UAE decision. Will these effect a similar programme in Singapore? It could but the Singaporeans may well choose the Korean bird ahead of the Italian one.

UAE is also in the midst of deciding on a basic advanced trainer, and the final two aircraft in the hat is the M346 little brother, M311 and the Swiss PC21 turboprop.

Anyhow, wouldnt it be nice if we hadnt invested in the new Macchis three years ago, We may well start training our pilots in UAE on these new jets within three years. Of course the Pakis have been benefiting from such cooperation for some time now. BTW, the UAE bought a tonne of stuff from the Americans during IDEX 2009, including C-17s and C130s. They are getting new combat boats built locally under license from Sweden and Turkey. How jealous are we?

Malaysian Defence

The United Arab Emirates Government selects Finmeccanica for 48 M-346 advanced lead-in fighter trainer aircraft

The United Arab Emirates Government today announced at IDEX 2009 (International Defence Exhibition & Conference) in Abu Dhabi that it had begun negotiations for the acquisition of 48 M-346 advanced lead-in fighter trainer aircraft manufactured by Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica company. The agreement, which also includes the creation of a joint venture in the UAE between Alenia Aermacchi and the Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) to establish a final assembly line for the M-346, is the result of close collaboration between the Italian Government and the defence industry, which have worked together to capitalise on Italian excellence in the aeronautics high-tech sector.

“The selection of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 by the United Arab Emirates Government represents a huge success for the Italian high-tech industry” said Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, Chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica. “It is an endorsement of considerable strategic value for Finmeccanica, as it confirms the supremacy of this advanced next-generation trainer aircraft at international level and paves the way for further successes in the global markets, where others important campaigns are already under way. The UAE Government’s selection of the M-346 forms part of a broader industrial co-operation agreement recently signed by Finmeccanica and Mubadala which foresees, among other things, the manufacturing of aerostructures in composite materials for the civil sector in Abu Dhabi”.

The M-346 “Master”

The M-346 “Master”, designed and developed by Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica company, is the only new generation advanced lead-in fighter trainer aircraft currently under development in Europe. The twin engine M-346 is tailored to train pilots to fly future combat aircraft and will be used in every phase of advanced and pre-operational training, reducing the hours flown on more expensive aircraft. In order to optimise training effectiveness and operating costs, the M-346 embodies the latest concepts of “design-to-cost”, supportability and production optimisation, with an high level of performances and a human-machine interface representative of new generation combat aircraft such as the Eurofighter, the Rafale, the F-16 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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About Marhalim Abas 2205 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Read it at WAFF. stated the price total estimated about USD1.27 billion or about usd26 million aplane. Expensive but again the arab can afford it.

  2. All we can do is gaze our eyes and open up our mouth sooooo big looking at these high profile procurement. On our perspective, maybe we can’t afford to follow suit due to our so call “limited” and “tight” budget, but a hi-lo mix of procurement could balance up the equation if the combination is right.

    I’m thinking of An-76/78 as strategic transport and tanker while C-130 J as long range tactical transport. And maybe more CN-235 could fill the gap for short range tactical need.

  3. The only thing that i personnally believe that could meet our low end of the mix (fighter) is the JF17. Slated to cost around USD20-25 million fly away (depends on what avionics, radar and armament suite u want, either the cheap chines version, more expensive russion or even more expensive western), but still at early stage with only 16 to 25 units currently available with Pakistan. My rough comparison, it is better than the Hawk 200 especially in BVR combat and higher speed but again still at early stage to really sa its actual performance. Unless gomen put a special budget to give hawk 200 added upgrades to gether (BVR etc, not necessary amraam, sparrow just fine) with attrition replacements…who knows

  4. I think if we go for Made In China product, I think maybe we should opt for their “top breed” hardware such as L-15 LIFT and FC-20 (J-10) MRCA. However I’m still doubtfull of their quality and reliability. We’ve seen a lot of Made In China automotive product nowadays cruising our road and i’ve heard a lot of discontent from unsatisfied customer. Frequent breakdown, poor after sales services and so on.

    Maybe we ought to study in great depth the probability of using PRC-origin military hardware. Perhaps, inputs from Pakistan or other PRC oriented user might shed some light and give some confidence to us.

    All in all, I believe that smart acquisition with emphasis on quality, suitability, reliability, effectiveness in operation and technological content regardless of its origin are the key factor whenver we decide to buy something from outside sources be it our traditional supplier ( i.e the U.S, Western Europe and Russia) or non traditional supplier ( India, PRS, Eastern Europe or Indonesia ).

    Marhalim: We already have Chinese made weapon, the FN-6 and copies of them, Baktar Shikan and the Anza. How good are them? Reliability? Without testing and field trials I am not at liberty to say about them. Comparing cars and other products are misleading as you cannot compare directly to weapons, its like comparing apples and oranges. Admittedly copies of the real thing, especially hardware, are never the same to the real thing.

  5. With non traditonal and cheap weapon supplier, IMHO we cannot apply same operating standards and expectation. The strategy should be different. Due to their cheap price, it may or may not compromise on quality but if you are talking about a mass blanket strategy, then these weapons would fit the bill in terms of quantity. Never really expect them to last more than a decade like most traditional expensive original weapon supplier but they are normally cheap enough that they can be discarded say after 5 years and still cheap to buy newer version of it than buying one original. China still in talks to buy more SU30 eventhough they already producing J11B. They still buy S300 eventhough they already produce F2000.They still operating huge load of the J7E/F . I believe they want quality but quantity matters to

  6. @ Kamal

    I disagree with going for made in china. Most of their product are lower tier with questionable quality, intentded for the Main force which focused on massive Quantity over Quality. Though most of it perfroms whatever the PLA wanted, im having doubts with its effectiveness.

    I bet our Defence Industry IF having the same capabilities could produce a better equaivalent product.

  7. Btw, 48 Advance Trainers for UAE? Isnt that too much? Do they even have enough the manpower to efficiently utilize all those planes?

    Marhalim: Half of those will be configured for light attack roles. They have always relied on expatriate pilots to back them up, mostly Pakistanis…..

  8. @TurboDiesel,

    Back in the 90’s i believe the same things were said about russian products (even till now). But our russian items such as the MIgs, SU, Metis M and mil(in bomba) does serve its purpose over the years albeit with documented trouble,eventough they are slightly cheaper than its western counterpart.

    i believe its a matter of balance. Quality is king but Quality cant stand alone plus to expensive for our “developing” country. A mixture of certain quantity and quality would be a better choice. At this moment, apart from Russia, Pakistan or Ukraine, China seems to be another candidate that can fulfill our defense needs without us need to sell our future generation for it. Example A USD50-65 million gripen seems too expensive to be a second tier fighter with we already having the Hornets and Migs. Jf17 (20-25 mil usd) or even J10(Usd 35-Usd50 mil) would seem to be a more logical choice, economic wise, if we want a second tier in bulk quantity. But off course there are other considerations also i admit.

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