Tag Archives: Italy

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 Polish pilot flies M-346

The first Polish Air Force pilot flew his first flight on the Finmeccanica M-346 in Lecce, Italy, last week. The flight marks the beginning of many more flight hours on the M-346 in Polish service. First deliveries of the type to Poland are scheduled for November.

Polish personnel started ground school in Lecce last November, first using Finmeccanica’s elaborated ground based training system associated with the M-346, which is called T-346 in Italian service.

Congratulations after a successful first flight. (Image © Italian Air Force)
Congratulations after a successful first flight. (Image © Italian Air Force)

LIFT

The Polish will use the jet trainer all the way until phase 4 training, also known as Lead In Fighter Training (LIFT), the last step until converting to high performance jets like the F-16 and F-35

Lecce currently offers flight training to student pilots from Italy, Austria, Greece, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Poland. Click here for a full report on training at this airbase in southern Italy.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A T-346 at Lecce. (Image © Italian Air Force)

More details on Polish M-346 Masters

The first two M-346 Masters for Poland, ordered in 2014 as the result of the Polish Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) tender, recently entered final assembly at Finmeccanica’s Venegono facility. They are the first of at least eight Italian made jet trainers for Poland, with more likely on the way. The first six pilots currently undergo training at the Italian Air Force’s 61 Wing at Lecce airbase.

To commemorate the progress made on the first two jets, general commander of the Polish Army Miroslaw Rozanski this week signed the fuselage of first Polish M-346 Master. The text on fuselage reads “from Italian to Polish land”, paraphrasing the Polish national anthem word and anticipating the actual delivery of the aircraft in November.

Four of the eight ordered M-346 Masters are already in various stages of final assembly. More pics showing M-346 production are here. Roll out and first flight of the first Polish Air Force M-346 are planned for May. With two expected in November, a further six should arrive in Dęblin airbase in 2017 in three batches of two.

The second aircraft in production. Image © Paweł Bondaryk)
The second aircraft in production. (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)

Cockpit

The cockpits of Polish M-346s are optimised for F-16 training, with three MFDs arranged similarly to the F-16’s cockpit. Specific Polish  features include a drag chute and a sliding cockpit curtain for IFR training. The jets will also be the first featuring an airframe-integrated P5 datalink pod.

More Masters

Since eight aircraft look to be insufficient to support proper training in Dęblin, exercising an option for a further four is a strong possibility. If the whole training system works as expected, even twelve M-346s may not be enough. The Polish Air Force Academy says it is receiving many requests from foreign air forces about training fast jet pilots.

The new  Masters are a massive leap forward from the 1960s-era and much-loved TS-11 Iskras. Full Mission Simulators and datalink capabilities should allow to significantly reduce costs of Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) and allow to move most of current Polish training in the US back to Poland.

An updated version of the M-346, designated T-100, is in the race to become the new jet trainer for the US Air Force. Finmeccanica has joined forces with Raytheon for the project.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com contributor Paweł Bondaryk
Featured image: The very first aircraft for Poland. (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)

The message left by Miroslaw Rozanski, general commander of the Polish Army (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)
The message left by Miroslaw Rozanski, general commander of the Polish Army (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)

‘Kuwaiti Typhoon deal on Sunday’

UPDATED 31 January | Kuwait and Italy are on course to sign the bilateral Eurofighter Typhoon deal on Sunday 31 January, officials in Rome confirmed to Airheadsfly.com on Wednesday. The contract signature should conclude months of talks between the two countries.

Update: no news came to light on Sunday on the contract being signed, although talks are said to continue.

The Kuwaiti interest for 28 Typhoons first came to light last September and concerns 22 singe seat and 6 two seater aircraft. The jets are to be manufactured in FNM Aeronautics facility in Turin. The order could also involve Typhoons originally destined for the Italian Air Force.

Meanwhile, Kuwait is said to be also still interested in buying Boeing F-18 Super Hornets. Talks on that have dragged for quite some time. More on potential fighter jet deals in the Middle East is here.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Head to head with Eurofighter Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)