STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Aermacchi - Italy
OPERATORS: Australia; Argentina; Eritrea; Ghana; Italy; Malaysia; Nigeria; Peru; United Arab Emirates
LENGTH: 36.88 feet (11.24 meters)
WIDTH: 36.81 feet (11.22 meters)
HEIGHT: 13.09 feet (3.99 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 6,889 pounds (3,125 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 13,999 pounds (6,350 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Piaggio RR Viper 680-43 turbojet engine developing 4,450lb of thrust.
SPEED (MAX): 506 miles-per-hour (815 kilometers-per-hour; 440 knots)
RANGE: 231 miles (371 kilometers; 200 nautical miles)
CEILING: 46,719 feet (14,240 meters; 8.85 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 6,595 feet-per-minute (2,010 meters-per-minute)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Aermacchi MB.339 Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 8/18/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Aermacchi MB.339 was the successor to the Aermacchi MB.326 in the advanced trainer and light strike role. This twin-seat trainer proved equally adept at its given roles and also went on to replace the aged Fiat G.91T trainer and close-support aircraft in service with the Italian Air Force. As with the MB.326, the newer MB.339 saw moderate export success around the globe with Australia, Argentina, Eritrea, Ghana, Italy, Malaysia, Nigeria, Peru and the UAE. After recording its first flight as a prototype (two completed as "MB.339X") on August 12th, 1976, the MB.339 was formally introduced in 1979 with production ongoing as of this writing (2012). At least 213 have been produced to date.
Compared to the MB.326 before it, the MB.339 featured an all-new redesigned nose assembly. The twin-seat arrangement was also modified to extend the view of the rear-seat instructor's/co-pilot's position while the single Piaggio (Rolls-Royce) Viper Mk 621 turbojet powerplant increased performance. Wingtip tanks were enlarged but were more or less retained from the earlier MB.326 models as were the 6 x external underwing hardpoints and 2 x DEFA 30mm internal cannons.
Overall design was highly conventional for an aircraft of this class. This included a short nose cone, low-set straight wing assemblies and a traditional single-fin rudder and applicable tailplanes. The undercarriage was of the three-wheeled tricycle arrangement, fully retractable. An in-flight refueling probe was offset to the right side of the cockpit to help extend the MB.339's operational range to an extent.
The MB.339A model series was the most numerous production model (107 examples across three production batches) while the "C" model added further improvements including an uprated engine, onboard laser rangefinder (in the nose) and provision for guided/homing missile firing. The "CD" model benefitted more with HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick), HUDs (Head-Up Display) and three LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens. The MB.339K and MB.339 T-Bird II were proposed variants - the former intended as a single-seat attack plane and the latter as a Lockheed proposal to the US JPATS competition.
The MB.339 has since proven an effective trainer and light strike aircraft. Eritrea has utilized its MB.339s in anger against neighboring Ethiopia in a February 1999 attack on an Ethiopian Army fuel depot at Adigrat.
Argentina, Malaysia, New Zealand and the UAE no longer operate their MB.339s.
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Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (506mph).
Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the Aermacchi MB.339K's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units