|The M-345 at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014|
|Role||Light attack aircraft and advanced trainer|
|Manufacturer||Alenia Aermacchi (now Leonardo S.p.A.)|
|First flight||1 June 2005 (M-311)|
29 December 2016 (M-345)
21 December 2018 (M-345 HET)
|Developed from||SIAI Marchetti S.211|
During 1997, Italian aircraft manufacturer Aermacchi acquired SIAI Marchetti; this purchase included the rights to the latter's S-211, a jet-powered trainer aircraft. In 2004, the company announced its intention to develop an improved version of the S-211, then referred to as the S-311. At the time, Aermacchi was also developing the M-346 Master, which serves as a lead-in fighter trainer; while vaguely similar to the M-311, the latter is considerably smaller and intended to perform both the basic and advanced training syllabus, as well tactical training functions, as an alternative to single-engined turboprop-powered competitors.
Being based on the S-211, the M-311 features an advanced new cockpit, various structural enhancements (including the increased use of increased use of composite materials) and a new powerplant in the form of the Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5C turbofan engine. The changes allowed for an extended fatigue life of 15,000 flight hours, increased intervals between overhauls and a reduced turnaround time between sorties. According to the manufacturer, the M-311's life-cycle costs may be brought into line with those of its turboprop rivals, the direct operating cost is only 5% higher despite a fuel-burn penalty of roughly 30%. Aermacchi's competitive analysis director Sergio Coniglio stated low maintenance costs shall be a decisive factor in the M-311's competitiveness against increasingly sophisticated competition.
On 1 June 2005, the first prototype aircraft conducted its maiden flight. A second aircraft, which had previously been used as a technology demonstrator during the 1990s, incorporating most features of the envisioned production model, was also produced. By September of that year, the prototype had reportedly flown 30 flights, and was set to receive software upgrades to enhance its cockpit displays. During July 2006, one of the prototypes was displayed at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
During mid-2006, the company announced that it had forecast demand for a production run of up to 350 M-311s by 2030. On 28 May 2008, Boeing and Alenia signed a joint agreement to cooperate on marketing, sales, training and product support for both the M-346 and M-311.
During 2012, the M-311 was re-designated by Alenia Aermacchi as the M-345 HET. During October 2014, it was announced that the Williams International FJ44-4M turbofan engine had been selected to power the in-development trainer, having overcome rivaling bids from both Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney. The company stated that Williams' engine has been selected due to its performance in the business aviation sector and with the Swedish Air Force's re-engined fleet of Saab 105 trainers. Shortly thereafter, Alenia Aermacchi begun installing the 3,400lb-thrust FJ44-4M onto its flight-test aircraft, replacing the existing P&W Canada JT15D units.
In March 2015, Alenia and ENAER of Chile signed an agreement to jointly manufacture and sell the M-345 HET in South America. On 1 June 2015, Alenia Aermacchi presented the M-345 to the DGA for the nascent French replacement program for its Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets. On 20 September 2018, Alenia Aermacchi signed an agreement with South African defense company Paramount Group to evaluate and develop a combat-orientated model of the M-345 to suit the requirements of prospective African customers.
The M-345 first flew on 29 December 2016. During January 2017, the first order for the type was placed by the Italian Air Force. The first production-standard M-345 was flown from Venegono Superiore in December 2018; at this point, service entry with the Italian Air Force was anticipated to occur during 2020.
The Aermacchi M-345 is a compact twin-seat shoulder-wing monoplane trainer aircraft. It is based on the earlier SIAI-Marchetti S.211, which features both structural and equipment improvements. The airframe has been strengthened, while a glass cockpit and modern avionics have been installed. It is furnished with a retractable tricycle landing gear, powered by a single Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan engine. As a basic trainer, the M-345 is designed to complement the Aermacchi M-346 advanced trainer. It has been designed with a secondary close air support capability, being furnished with five underwing hard points.
Both the pilot and instructor, which are seated in a tandem configuration, are provided with hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls. Both crew are seated upon Martin-Baker-built 10LKs 'zero-zero' ejection seats. The cockpit's internal dimensions have been increased to be broadly identical to those of the BAE Systems Hawk. The displays and all light sources have been selected for compatibility with night-vision goggles (NVG). The environmental control system cools the cockpit for ground operations in temperatures up to ISA +35ºC (95ºF); the presence of an on-board oxygen-generating system (OBOGS) removes the need for oxygen bottles.
The M-345's glass cockpit features various avionics and electronics. Displays include three identical 5 x 7in (125 x 180mm) colour multifunction liquid-crystal displays, a forward-mounted wide-angle head-up display (HUD), while the rear position is provided with a full-sized HUD repeater via a fourth dedicated multifunction display. The integrated avionics suite includes dual mission computer]s, embedded Global Positioning System/inertial navigation system, integrated data recorders and, optionally, a digital moving map, stores management system, and an embedded simulation capability (identical to that offered on the M-346); the latter being able to display virtual radar targets and radar warning receiver (RWR) threats.
Conventional ailerons are hydraulically-boosted, with provisions for manual reversion, while both the elevator and rudder are mechanically actuated via pushrods, with three-axis electrical trimming. Secondary flight controls are simple trailing edge flaps, which are electrically actuated, and a belly-mounted air brake, which is electrically controlled and hydraulically actuated. The 207bar (3,000lb/in2) hydraulic system is used to operate the landing gear, wheel brakes, air brake and aileron boost; the electrical system is DC with internal-battery engine start. The M-345 is suited for 'on-condition' maintenance via a health and usage monitoring system, while its most common maintenance and serving requirements are intended to be suitable for semi-skilled personnel.
During January 2017, Italy placed an initial order for five M-345s for the Italian Air Force (IAF). The service has a requirement for up to 45 aircraft to replace Aermacchi MB-339s used in both the basic training role and by the Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team. In June 2019, Italy placed an follow-on order for an additional 13 M-345s, bringing the total up to 18.
- Modernized and uprated version of the SIAI Marchetti S.211/Aermacchi S-211; two prototypes built.
- M-345 HET
- Redesignation of the M-311 from 2012, powered by 1 Williams International FJ44-4M turbofan
Data from M-345 - Leonardo Company
- Crew: 2
- Length: 9.85 m (32 ft 4 in)
- Wingspan: 8.47 m (27 ft 9 in)
- Height: 3.74 m (12 ft 3 in)
- Wing area: 12.6 m2 (136 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 3,300 kg (7,275 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 4,500 kg (9,921 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 700 kg (1,500 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan engine
- Maximum speed: 740 km/h (460 mph, 400 kn)
- Stall speed: 163 km/h (101 mph, 88 kn)
- Never exceed speed: 795 km/h (494 mph, 429 kn)
- Range: 1,410 km (880 mi, 760 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 12,190 m (39,990 ft)
- g limits: +7.33 −3.5
- Rate of climb: 23.97 m/s (4,719 ft/min)
- Thrust/weight: 0.45
- Up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of weapons on five hardpoints, including gunpods, bombs, and rockets.
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Collins, Peter. "FLIGHT TEST: Alenia Aermacchi M-311 - Bridging the gap." Flight International, 7 May 2007.
- Doyle, Andrew. "M-311 set to face pilot scrutiny." Flight International, 13 September 2005.
- "Aermacchi chapter." Flight International, 21 July 2004.
- "Training aircraft", Projects (gallery), Airforce technology.
- Hoyle, Craig. "RIAT: Alenia Aermacchi M-311 jet trainer in the black at Fairford." Flight International, 14 July 2006.
- Hoyle, Craig. "Fresh sales prompt MB-339 advanced jet trainer revival." Flight International, 1 August 2006.
- Trimble, Stephen (29 May 2018), Alenia Aermacchi, Boeing join forces on jet trainer market, Flight International
- Boeing and Finmeccanica to Pursue International Trainer Aircraft Market (press release), Boeing, 26 May 2008, archived from the original on 29 June 2008
- Perry, Dominic. "Alenia picks FJ44 for M-345 trainer, mulls SF-260 replacement." Flight International, 8 October 2014.
- "Enaer signs a Memorandum of Understanding with largest Italian Aeronautics company Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi." Leonardo S.p.A., 25 March 2015.
- Perry, Dominic (16 June 2015). "Paris: France plans Alpha Jet replacement". Flightglobal. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- Hoyle, Craig. "Leonardo eyes African market for armed M-345." Flight International, 27 September 2018.
- Stevenson, Beth (3 January 2017). "Maiden Flight for M-345 Trainer". Flightglobal. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- Hoyle, Craig. "Italian deal opens M-345 order book." Flight International, 16 January 2017.
- Perry, Dominic (21 December 2018). "Leonardo flies first production-standard M-345". Flight Global. London. Archived from the original on 22 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
- Nicolli Air International July 2017, p. 11.
- Perry, Dominic (13 June 2019). "Italy orders 13 additional M-345 trainers". FlightGlobal. London. Archived from the original on 13 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
- "S.211" (production list). NL: SIAI-Marchetti. Archived from the original on 28 October 2006.
- "M-345 - Leonardo Company". www.leonardocompany.com. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
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