The sun is rising for Alenia Aermacchi and its M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. (Image © Alenia Aermacchi)

Taiwanese M-346 buy in doubt

The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF; Taiwan) would love to buy the Italian-designed Alenia Aermacchi M-346 as its new advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft, but the wish might run into trouble with European export restrictions.

According to Taiwanese media Taiwan needs special licenses to purchase the M-346, since it is planning to equip the aircraft with air-to-ground weapons and possibly a machine gun. The ROCAF wants to make full use of the new jet, as a replacement for its current AIDC AT-3 “Tzu Chung” advanced jet trainer and maybe even some of the aging Northrop F-5s.

Delivering more militarized jets normally means that big neighbour mainland China is angry and many European nations choose not to deliver advanced weaponry to Taiwan in order to gain political and therefore economic benefit from the larger China.

The ROCAF hopes to finalize the selection this year and have the new advanced trainer and light combat aircraft in service between 2017 and 2021.

© 2015 editor Marcel Burger

The M-346 advanced trainer in mid-flight (Image © Alenia Aermacchi)
The M-346 advanced trainer in mid-flight (Image © Alenia Aermacchi)