Promising Italian light fighter M-346FA created concern Leonardo on the basis of training aircraft M-346 made its first flight. According to the message of the Italian group, flight test aircraft started on 13 July 2020. Held check was deemed successful. The developers plan to start deliveries of the new aircraft to customers in 2021.
Due to the effects of the global financial and economic crisis of 2008 and the decline of the world economy due to pandemic coronavirus infection, some countries are faced with a shortage in defence budgets. The need to replenish and upgrade the aircraft fleet remained.
As a result, the past few years began to take shape the demand for relatively cheap light fighters that could take on some of the tasks performed by a large and heavy combat aircraft. For this reason, a few companies in the world engaged in the development of lightweight fighters at the training aircraft.
M-346FA retained the basic flight characteristics of the original aircraft. From the basic model it also inherited a system of refueling in the air and avionics. A light fighter has received seven suspension points: two on the wing tips, two under the left and right consoles of the wing and one under the fuselage.
Fighter installed a modernized Grifo radar with an active phased antenna array. Updated radar can detect enemy aircraft at a greater distance than conventional pulse-Doppler station. Earlier it was reportedthat M-346FA will be certified to use aviation bombs and missiles.
Meanwhile, Leonardo is planning to make a training aircraft M-346 Master modular. Due to this, customers basic version of the aircraft will be able without much difficulty to change it, adding the necessary equipment. As a result, they will be able to turn a training aircraft in a light fighter or attack aircraft.