19:49 GMT +320 July 2019
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    M-346 Training Jet

    Italian Pilots Take to the Skies in Training Jet With Russian Roots

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    The first batch of newly-qualified pilots has reportedly started training on the Alenia Aermacchi T-346A, a plane that is based on the Russian-made Yak-130 jet trainer.

    The Italian Air Force has stated that it has begun to train newly-qualified pilots on the Alenia Aermacchi T-346A (M-346A), a military transonic trainer aircraft based on the Yak-130. Its immediate predecessor was originally developed as a joint venture by the Russian Design Bureau Yakovlev and the Italian aerospace company Aermacchi.

    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.

    Yak-130 aircraft
    © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
    Yak-130 aircraft

    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.

    However, by 2000, differences in priorities between the two firms finally prompted them to develop the aircraft independently.

    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.

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    flights, jet, training, pilots, M-346A, Yak-130, Italy, Russia
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