A pair of AMI T-346As ready about to depart on their next LIFT mission (Image © Aeronautica Militare)

Debut of Italian T-346s as Lead-In Fighter Trainers

For the first time in history the Italian Air Force has used their new Finmeccanica / FNM Aeronautics (fka Alenia Aermacchi) T-346A Masters in the final stage (Phase IV) of the Lead-in Fighter Training (LIFT).

Under the guidance of the Test and Standardization Division at Decimomannu Airbase, the 212th Group of 61 Wing (212° Gruppo / 61° Stormo) executed various missions, including air-to-ground combat, with the new advanced trainer marketed by its maker as the M-346.


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Head on with the Italian Air Force T-346. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Head on with the Italian Air Force T-346.
(Image © Elmer van Hest)


Pilots flew both high and low angle mission profiles, engaged in air combat and did that with several levels of difficulties, a statement of the Aeronautica Militare reads. Combat scenarios with targets both Within Visual Range (WVR) as well as Beyond Visual Range (BVR) were tried both during intercept as well as escort missions.

Alenia M-339C

Commanders of the Italian Air Force think that with the T-346A Master they can not only better prepare future pilots for Operational Conversion Training and front-line units, they also feel they can do it quicker than with the older Alenia M-339C (FT339C) the new Masters are replacing.

Three Finmeccanica Masters taxiing on Decimomannu in this somewhat edited released image by the Italian Air Force (Image © Aeronautica Militare)
Three Finmeccanica Masters taxiing on Decimomannu in this somewhat edited image released by the Italian Air Force (Image © Aeronautica Militare)

Recently the Italian Air Force (AMI) has raised the number of firm orders for the new T-346A from 9 to 18 aircraft, while at the AMI training base of Lecce the first Polish Air Force pilot took to the skies in what will be his country’s newest advanced trainer as well.

The current LIFT course standardisation flights at Decimomannu will continue until May.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A pair of AMI T-346As ready about to depart on their next LIFT mission (Image © Aeronautica Militare)