Paris Air show: Leonardo pushes M-346 for ASDOT
Leonardo will be looking to offer up its M-346 training aircraft for the UK’s Air Support for Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) requirement, the company confirmed to Shephard at the Paris Air Show.
The company also used the event to highlight its M-346FA (Fighter Attack) aircraft design which will be the third member of the 346 family, which also includes the basic configuration and the fighter trainer.
Eduardo Munhos, head of international sales at Leonardo Aircraft Division said that it is looking to form partnerships within the company but said that ‘the M-346 is the best aircraft for ASDOT.’
ASDOT aims to replace the UK’s live air training activities that currently includes target towing and EW/ECM facilities provided by Cobham Aviation and airborne threat training.
Munhos added that some aggressor training customers need a radar capability which the new M-346FA has.
The M-346 Fighter Attack will be equipped with a dedicated variant of the Grifo multi-mode fire control radar, designed and manufactured by Leonardo. The M-356FA is also capable of autonomous interception with use of its radar.
The company is also looking towards South America and South East Asia as potential customers for the aircraft. Munhos highlighted that the new aircraft variant could replace light attack aircraft such as the Northrop F-5, performing roles as both an active attack jet and a training aircraft.
With seven pylons for external loads, the M-346FA will retain the capabilities of the M-346 family in the advanced and pre-operational training roles, but will also be able to operate as multi-role tactical aircraft, capable of air-to-surface, air-to-air and tactical reconnaissance missions.
The company also showcased its 345 at Le Bourget, the launch customer is the Italian Air Force who have signed contracts for the first lot of aircraft, five of a potential 45 aircraft.
Munhos said that the company also has to other potential customers for the 345 though no official contracts have been signed to date.
He added, ‘our target is to have an additional client by the end of 2017.’
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