Leonardo eyes first M-346FA delivery after maiden flight
The M-346FA light attack aircraft successfully completed its initial flight on 13 July equipped with a bespoke Grifo-M-346 multimode radar, Leonardo announced on 23 July.
‘The M-346FA offers all of the advanced training capabilities of the core M-346 while also integrating latest generation sensors and equipment, allowing it to operate as an effective light attack aircraft,’ said Lucio Valerio Cioffi, managing director of Leonardo Aircraft.
‘We will now continue development as we prepare to deliver the first aircraft to its international launch customer in 2021,’ he added.
Shephard understands that Azerbaijan will be the first country to order the new aircraft.
M-346FA includes a complete DAS, plus network-centric communications including Tactical Data Link. ‘The platform can also employ Link 16 in order to interoperate with NATO forces,’ Leonardo stated.
The aircraft can be armed with IR-, radar-, laser- or GPS-guided air-to-ground missiles or rockets. Optional extras include a gun pod, reconnaissance sensors, target designation pods and EW sensors, all of which can be integrated with an HMD system for both pilots.
M-346FA is also designed to be operated as a trainer aircraft (the same application as the baseline M-346), including integration with LVC environments.
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