The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 is a jet trainer and light attack aircraft developed by Alenia Aermacchi for the Italian Air Force and Navy. It is an advanced development of the earlier MB-339, with several major changes including a new wing, fuselage design and engine. The first prototype flew on June 17th 2003.
The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 is a military aircraft that was designed and manufactured by Alenia Aermacchi in Italy. The aircraft is powered by a single Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk951 turbofan engine, which produces 6,500 pounds of thrust (28kN).
The M-346 has the capability to be operated from unprepared runways and can take off at gross weights up to 14,000 lbs (6,400 kg) with maximum payloads of 4,200 lbs (1,900 kg), making it an ideal platform for tactical airlift missions.
It’s also used for training purposes and as the basis for developing new technologies such as fly-by-wire, night vision systems and others.
The M-346 Master is a variant of the aircraft which includes advanced avionics for training purposes as well as a new cockpit design, 9G capability and an optional TopSkills system that enables students to fly in any weather conditions with night vision goggles.
This multirole fighter jet is currently being procured by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for training purposes. The contract will provide Canada with 16 M-346 aircraft, including 4 trainers and 12 operational jets. The first two aircraft have already been delivered to the RCAF while the remaining 14 are currently scheduled for delivery between 2017 and 2021.
The M-346 is in service with Italy and has also been ordered by the US Air Force for training purposes. It’s sold to other countries such as Brazil, Czech Republic, Kuwait, Poland, Peru and Thailand.
The M-346 Master will be operated by 441 Combat Support Squadron at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta; 10 Operational Training Unit based at CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; and 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron based at CFB Edmonton. The M-346 will replace the aging fleet of CT-134 Hawk jets which have been in service since 1981 and are now considered obsolete.