Alenia Aermacchi’s plant in Venegono has begun assembling Israel’s first M-346 advanced jet trainer.
The three major components of the first aircraft are currently being joined to form the aircraft’s structure. Then the M-346 Lavi, as the type will be called in Israeli Air & Space Force service, will make its way down the assembly line and roll out of the factory for final checks and delivery to the IASF in the mid of 2014.
Israel ordered a total of 30 M-346 as advanced trainers to replace the TA-4 Skyhawks currently in service. The M-346 is primary an advanced trainer, but can be configured for light combat operations. The avionics suite can be modeled in F-16, F-18, Eurofighter, Gripen, Rafale, F-22 and JSF kind of environments, according to the company.
Alenia Aermachhi sure is proud of its new M-346, and called it ‘the only advanced jet trainer with a fully integrated Helmet Mounted Display (HMD)’ in a press release on Tuesday. The new helmet provides student pilots with a new generation personal avionics system that enables them to develop competency in the use of advanced weapons systems management in operations fully representative of modern combat aircraft.
Fully integrated into the M-346 aircraft avionics systems and the ground based mission simulators, the HMD is particularly effective in those missions where the trainee employs the Embedded Tactical Training System (ETTS) for sensor and weapons systems training.
In these missions the HMD demonstrates its outstanding capability to augment the pilot’s Situational Awareness (SA), both in Air-To-Air and Air-To-Ground missions. Optically integrated with the M-346 Head-Up Display (HUD), the M-346 HMD provides training in the combined use of HMD and HUD provided information.
The M-346 HMD is particularly effective during off bore-sight “target tracking”; tactical symbology is displayed on the helmet visor and provides targeting and tracking information in direct view allowing the student to concentrate on performing tactical maneuvers and weapon release in pursuit of his mission objective. The M-346 HMD is also equipped with a click-on night module which permits an easy mechanical integration with all the most common night-vision goggle models.
The M-346 advanced jet trainer has resumed test flight operations after it was grounded by Alenia Aermacchi of Italy following an accident of the company-owned, pre-series aircraft on May 11, 2013.
,,The technical investigation allowed Alenia Aermacchi to successfully identify the accident’s causes”, writes the company in a press release. ,,The process has been shared with air force customers, and the required aircraft modifications have been approved by the relevant authority, the Italian Direzione Armamenti Aeronautici.”