Italian Air Force: the first two T-345A aircraft have been delivered to the 61st Wing where they will replace the MB-339 fleet for military pilots training

Rome, 23/12/2020 – The first two examples of the basic training aircraft T-345A (M-345 High Efficiency Trainer – HET, developed and produced by Leonardo SpA), a totally “made in Italy” aircraft that will gradually replace the Service entire fleet of MB339s, including those of the National Aerobatic Team, have just landed today, Wednesday 23 December, at the Lecce-Galatina Air Base, home of the 61st Wing.

The new trainer will be used by the 61st Wing for phases II and III of the training syllabus of the Italian Air Force and foreign air forces who intend to train their pilots at the international flight school. This event marks the beginning of a new and complete training programme that will integrate the 61st Wing with the future International Flight Training School (IFTS), which construction started last December 16 at the Decimomannu Air Base (Ca).

The new two-seater jet will be the training pillar for the new generations of pilots and will allow to improve training quality while reducing costs (hence the name High Efficiency Trainer); moreover, thanks to the development of technologies already in use on the T-346A, the 345 will allow a more dynamic and efficient transition to the advanced training phase “Advanced / Lead-In to Fighter Training” (phase IV).

“Today the arrival of this new aircraft represents an important moment not only for the Italian Air Force and for the whole country but also and above all for this territory which for decades has been the symbol of a winning synergy”, Lieutenant General Aerea Alberto Rosso, the Italian Air Force Chief of Staff, said. “In the Apulian skies the Air Force has trained and will continue to train Italian and foreign military pilots with the same spirit and the same passion, but with an integrated training system that is now enriched with a new and important aircraft, a further demonstration of the ability to team up of the Italian Air Force and Leonardo. Thanks to cutting-edge skills and technologies, it will be possible to train – in an even more cost-effective way – professionals capable of managing increasingly advanced and complex aircraft. The 61st Wing , international leader in military flight training, is a concrete example of Italian excellence worldwide and a pride for the entire country system. An ideal continuity in the sign of the Tricolor between two Italian aircraft – the MB339 and the T-345 – for a flight school that will continue to guarantee its institutional mission of training military pilots, but with increasingly advanced tools and enhanced skills “.

The transition from the 339 to the 345 will take place gradually. Before operational use in the training process, the new aircraft will undergo an Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) process which will be conducted by the Flight Experimental Department of the Logistics Command.

The first two aircraft, produced at Leonardo’s facilities in Venegono Superiore (VA), were officially delivered to the Italian Air Force on Tuesday 22 December at the end of the testing and acceptance procedures conducted by the personnel of the Aeronautical Armaments and Airworthiness Department ( DAAA) who worked jointly with the staff of the Milan Territorial Technical Office (UTT) employee and with the support of the Experimental Flight Department and the 6th Detached Technical Service, entities dependent on the Air Force Logistics Command.

In the 75 years of military flight training, the Galatina-based 61st Wing has seen generations of military pilots train on different types of aircraft: from the T6 “Texan” of the immediate “post-war”, to the MB326 of the 60s / 70s ; from the MB339 in the Alpha and CD versions, still operational, to the T-346A which since 2014 has revolutionized advanced flight training.

The 61st Wing, which depends from the Air Force Schools Command/3rd Air Region of Bari, has the task of providing jet flight training : phase II – Primary Pilot Training, common to all military pilot students, aimed at identifying the lines on which they will fly (fighters, remote piloting (RPA), helicopters, transport); phase III – Specialized Pilot Training, aimed exclusively at student pilots selected for the “Fighter” and “RPA” lines which ends with the achievement of the military pilot’s license (turreted eagle); phase IV – Lead In to Fighter Training – LIFT, preparatory to the subsequent use on latest generation fighter aircraft such as Eurofighter and F-35.

Source: Italian Air Force

Unofficial translation by EDR On-Line

Photos courtesy Italian Air Force