LEONARDO: The “market ready” Aermacchi M-345

Thanks to over 60 years of experience in the design and production of aircraft and integrated training systems, Leonardo is now ready to introduce the Aermacchi M-345. A highly performing trainer aircraft designed to be simple, effective and reliable, in addition to featuring extremely low maintenance and support costs, the Aermacchi M-345 is the ideal aircraft to replace the current line of basic trainers around the world.

The M-345 offers higher performance compared to heavy turboprop trainers. It provides student pilots with a training environment that simulates the flight behaviour, manoeuvre capability, and physical experience of jet aircraft. The M-345 ensures a higher exit level, the achieved quality standard upon completion of student pilot training activities.

The Italian Air Force, launch customer of the M-345, will replace its MB.339 in service with the National Aerobatic Team (Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale – PAN), the “Frecce Tricolori”, with the new Leonardo trainer. The MB.339 is the same aircraft that equips the “Al Fursan”, the aerobatic team of the United Arab Emirates that trained in Italy and the Emirates with the supervision of PAN pilots, using aircraft and training systems made in Leonardo.

M-345: The Trainer for the Pilots of the Future

The new M-345 represents the latest generation of Leonardo trainer aircraft, perfectly suited for covering the entire pilot training syllabus, from basic to advanced missions.

The aircraft is fitted with simple and basic onboard systems that require a minimum amount of maintenance, and are able to guarantee maximum safety and reliability. The result is a highly efficient trainer aircraft powered by a turbofan engine, but with purchase and life-cycle costs comparable to those of turboprop trainers and superior performance compared to the latter.

The M-345’s structure, in which extensive use was made of composite materials, is built to fly a lot, with an operating life of up to 15,000 hours. The non-afterburning Williams FJ44-4M-34 engine guarantees substantial thrust, keeping fuel consumption low and features a modern digital control system.

Student pilots and instructors sit on latest generation Martin Baker Mk.IT16D ejection seats inside a comfortable cockpit, fully equipped with sophisticated instrumentation including, amongst other things, three large LCD multifunction displays – very similar to the kind of equipment future pilots will find in front-line fighter aircraft.

An Integrated Training System

Based on its 60-year experience in the pilot training sector, Leonardo’s Aircraft Division has created an integrated training system that is able to easily move pilots up from primary trainers to latest generation fighter aircraft.

The optimal balance between real flying experience and appropriate simulation brings costs down without compromising the quality of training, allowing the new M-345s to generate a greater number of training missions compared to the aircraft currently in service.

The M-345 was conceived right from the start as the heart of the advanced integrated training system, which includes all ground-based training aids, including a complete mission simulator and an integrated system for logistical support.

The presence of the onboard Embedded Tactical Training Simulation (ETTS) system, based on that offered in the well-proven M-346 aircraft, is fundamental. This system is capable of simulating the most appropriate tactical scenario based on training needs, making allied or enemy forces appear, simulating the functioning of onboard sensors that are not actually present or weapons. Pilots are immersed in an environment known as LVC, which seamlessly combines flying aircraft (Live), flight simulated aircraft (Virtual) with other virtual allied or enemy forces (Constructive).

Operational roles

While maintaining its superior characteristics as a jet trainer, thanks to its modern avionics and performances, its high external load capacity, is also suited for operational roles in low intensity scenarios, with the capability to employ weapons like gun pod, rockets, ballistic and guided bombs, air-to-ground missiles, air-to-air missiles and self-protection or training pods. Keeping the ETTS always on-board is a significant advantage for the pilots that can be able to seamlessly pass from training to real missions without having to change the aircraft.