According to media reports, Italy has already ordered 15 M-346As, which are designed to introduce pilots to fifth-generation aircraft performance on Eurofighter Typhoon, AMX, Panavia Tornado, and F-35 jets.
The history of the creation of the M-346 dates back to 1993, when Aermacchi inked a cooperation agreement with Yakovlev to jointly develop a new trainer. Yakovlev had been developing the trainer independently since 1991 for the Russian Air Force.
The resulting aircraft made its maiden flight in 1996 and was then brought to Italy to replace the aging MB-339. At the time, the aircraft was marketed as the Yak/AEM-130.
As far as the M-346 is concerned, it is a highly modified version of the aircraft the joint venture produced, and uses equipment purchased exclusively from Western manufacturers. The first prototype was unveiled on June 7, 2003 and flew for the first time on July 15, 2004.
The plane is made of composite materials, which added significantly to its technical characteristics. Equipped with two Honeywell turbojet engines, the M-346 is capable of achieving a speed of up to 1,060 kilometers per hour.