Tag Archives: Finmeccanica

Israeli Lavi-force at full strength, T-50 criticized

The Israeli Air Force now has its full complement of 30 Leonardo Finmeccanica M-346 Lavi advanced jet trainers operational. The final one has been commissioned this week.

With the new jets, the skies of Israel will be free of the Skyhawk – the legendary A-4 that was the Lavi’s predecessor after having been commissioned in the 1960s.

The commissioning of the full 30 jets – known in Italy as the Master – went with some bad mouthing on the biggest competitor: the Korean Aerospace Industries T-50 Golden Eagle. “At the end of the day, the Italian plane was better than the Korean one. We choose wisely for the Lavi,” Israel’s head of procurement of the Ministry of Defence – Shmuel Tzuker, said to The Times of Israel.

USA’s T-X program

An interesting remark, since a derivative of the T-50 is also in the running to replace the US Air Force’s Northrop T-38 Talon advanced jet fighters. This Lockheed Martin/KIA T-50A is also facing the heat of the M-346, enroled in the USA’s T-X program as the Raytheon/Leonardo Finmeccanica T-100. According to Israel the M-346 is better in quality of training, safety, maintenance, specs and costs of operation.

So far, 68 M-346 Lead-In Fighter Trainer versions have been ordered by the air forces of Italy (18), Singapore (12), Israel (30) and Poland (8). But there are new markets at the horizon.

Combat M-346

A noticeable development which may also interest countries like Israel and Poland is the recently presented armed version of the Italian advanced trainer. At the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow Leonardo Finmeccanica showed of its M-346FT (Fighter Trainer) with light multi-role capabilities including laser guided bombs and air-to-air missiles. Airheadsfly.com already went inside deep at Lecce Airbase, aka the Master’s nest.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Israeli M-346 Lavi (“Lion”) (Image © Leonardo Finmeccanica)

The armed M-346FT development (Image © Leonardo Finmeccanica)
The armed M-346FT development (Image © Leonardo Finmeccanica)

Leonardo: teeth for the M-346

Leonardo Finmeccanica presented its new M-346FT (Fighter Trainer) on Sunday 10 July at the Farnborough International Airshow. The M-346FT is marketed as the multi-role version of the existing M-346 Master trainer.

According to the Italian company, the M-346FT integrates a wide range of systems and sensors for tactical support and air defence, a tactical data link, a self defence system, recognition and targeting sensors and a series of weapon systems. The PR image of the M-346FT shows the jet armed with two Laser Guided Bombs and a set of AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking air-to-air missiles. The image does not show any kind of additional sensor equipment, although Leonardo claims the aircraft can be  equipped with such in the future.

The Aermacchi M-346 trainer version is used as a Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT), preparing young fighter pilots for their final step towards high performance fighter aircraft. So far, 68 aircraft have been ordered by the air forces of Italy (18), Singapore (12), Israel (30) and Poland (8).

The last Israëli aircraft was recently delivered, while the first jet for Poland should make its very first flight soon. Poland is said to be one of the countries interested in a multi-role version of the M-346.

See our extensive coverage on the Italian-made M-346 here.

 

 

Kuwaiti Typhoon deal finally signed

Kuwait has finally signed a contract with Finmeccanica for 28 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft, Finmeccanica reported on Tuesday 5 April. The signature was inked in Kuwait and comes after long negotiations that resulted in an bilateral agreement between the governments of Kuwait and Italy. It is Finmeccanica’s largest commercial contract ever.

Kuwait purchases 22 single seat and six two seater Typhoons for an estimated 8 billion USD. The contract includes logistics, operational support and the training of flight crews and ground personnel, which will be carried out in cooperation with the Italian Air Force. Kuwaiti pilots already receive flight training at Lecce airbase in southern Italy. The contract also provides for the upgrade of ground-based infrastructure in Kuwait which will be used for Typhoon operations.

Radar

The Typhoons for Kuwait will be the first to be equipped with the new active electronically scanned array (AESA) E-Scan radar. The radar is developed by the European EuroRADAR consortium which is led by Finmeccanica.

Assembly

The aircraft will be build at Finmeccanica’s facility in Turin. The facility hosts an assembly line for Typhoon and produces parts for other Typhoon assembly lines as well. The facility so far only saw final assembly of Typhoons destined for Italy.

Achievement

“This is Finmeccanica’s largest ever commercial achievement”, said Mauro Moretti, Finmeccanica CEO and General Manager. “It is an outstanding industrial success with significant benefits, not only for our company and the other Eurofighter consortium partners, but also for the entire Italian aerospace industry.”

News about the deal first emerged in September 2015. A contract was to be signed earlier this year already, but financial arrangements apparently took longer than anticipated. The deal concludes one of more deals pending in the Middle East.

The signing could be a bad omen for Boeing, that is still hoping to sell F/A-18 Super Hornets to Kuwait.  The country now operates a fleet of older legacy F-18 Hornets that is nearly 25 years old.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Eurofighter Typhoon over surroundings typical for Kuwait. (Image © Finmeccanica)

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.


RELATED FEATURE:
Learning from the Master – AHF↑Inside the M-346 training base

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)

First flight for Norwegian AW101

The first of 16 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MoJ) successfully performed its maiden flight at the AgustaWestland Helicopter Division’s Yeovil factory in the UK on 21 March 2016.  This was announced by Finmeccanica on 23 March 2016.

The successful on-schedule maiden flight marks a major milestone and the start of the flight test programme that will lead to initial aircraft deliveries to the MoJ, for operation by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, in 2017. Aircraft deliveries will continue through to 2020.

“I am very pleased that Finmeccanica has reached this important milestone in the SAR helicopter project and thereby making good progress for the replacement of the aging Sea King helicopter with the new state-of-the-art AW101 by 2020,” says the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Mr. Anders Anundsen.

The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)
The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)

As we reported earlier, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security signed a contract for 16 AW101 helicopters plus support and training, back in december 2013, to meet the Norwegian All Weather SAR Helicopter (NAWSARH) requirement based on a new generation aircraft. Each aircraft is provided with an advanced SAR equipment package including a multi-panel AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) surveillance radar system, that provides 360° coverage. The large cabin doors and rear ramp provide easy access for personnel, survivors and equipment into the 27 m3 cabin which has stand-up head room throughout.

Finmeccanica’s Helicopter Division will provide initial support and training services, including spares at each of the aircraft operating bases and aircrew training. It will then provide performance based logistic support to deliver approximately 90,000 flying hours across the fleet of 16 helicopters over the initial 15 year period of operation. In support of pilot training, a full flight simulator will be available in Norway in advance of the delivery of the first aircraft.

The AW101 is in service with several air forces. For example, the Danish Air Force already send their AW101 (EH101) for operations in Afghanistan. In 2015, Japan got its first anti-mine AW101 (MCH-101) delivered, produced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, while the Italian Air Force recently introduced its first CSAR AW101 (HH-101A) into service.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image: The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)