Military Factory logo
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of navy warships

Leonardo (Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 Master

Advanced Jet Trainer / Light Strike Aircraft

Leonardo (Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 Master

Advanced Jet Trainer / Light Strike Aircraft

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The Italian Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master is based off of the promising Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced trainer-light strike series of aircraft.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Italy
YEAR: 2016
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Leonardo-Finmeccanica (Aermacchi) - Italy
PRODUCTION: 78
OPERATORS: Israel; Italy; Poland; Singapore
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Leonardo (Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 Master model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 2
LENGTH: 37.73 feet (11.5 meters)
WIDTH: 31.82 feet (9.7 meters)
HEIGHT: 15.62 feet (4.76 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 10,141 pounds (4,600 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 20,944 pounds (9,500 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Honeywell F124-GA-200 turbofan engines developing 6,250 lb of thrust each.
SPEED (MAX): 659 miles-per-hour (1060 kilometers-per-hour; 572 knots)
RANGE: 1,243 miles (2,000 kilometers; 1,080 nautical miles)
CEILING: 44,948 feet (13,700 meters; 8.51 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 22,000 feet-per-minute (6,706 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



Mixed ordnance capabilities to include air-to-air/air-to-ground missiles, rocket pods, gun pods, conventional drop ordnance and jettisonable fuel tanks across nine total hardpoints.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• M-346 "Master" - Base Series Designation
• T-346A - Italian Air Force designation
• M-346FA - Fighter-Attack model with AA and AS capability; ordnance load out up to two tons across seven hardpoints; powered by Williams International FJ44-4M-34 engine.
• M-346 LCA ("Light Combat Aircraft") - Armed version for Poland.
• T-100 "Integrated Training System" - Alternative Designation for U.S. trainer replacement competition ("T-X").


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Leonardo (Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 Master Advanced Jet Trainer / Light Strike Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 8/13/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The advanced jet trainer/light strike market has grown considerably over the last several decades. This class of aircraft allows budget-conscious operators the ability to train their pilots in an all-modern jet aircraft while retaining light strike capabilities in its design. However, light strike aircraft are generally limited in a tactical sense and can only serve in basic close-air support, attack and air defense sorties. They generally lack the capabilities and facilities of their larger brethren - the multirole fighter - though they have proven exceedingly popular in global air forces. The new Alenia M-346 "Master" is one such contribution to the aircraft category and is based on the equally-new Russian Yakovlev Yak-130.

The Alenia M-346 emerged from a former partnership between the Italian and Russian concerns during the early 1990s as Yakovlev had begun undertaking development of a new advanced trainer for the Russian Air Force. The Italian Air Force similarly sought a replacement for its aging fleet of MB-339 aircraft and signed on to a joint development effort with the Russian firm to design a new advanced trainer/light strike platform based on the Yakovlev endeavor. The Russian prototype flew for the first time in 1996.

By the turn of the century, the joint venture had dissolved due to design directions Yakovlev continued its pursuit of the Yak-130 while Alenia evolved their version along Western-centric lines hoping to capitalized on lucrative future procurement deals. As such, the Italian initiative has been developed with Western-based avionics, technology and support for Western armament. The Italian aircraft soon emerged as the M-346 "Master" in 2003 and recorded its first flight on July 15th, 2004. Over the next several years, the M-346 project gained additional traction as it generated interest from other global participants. During this time, the undercarriage was also revised, overall construction lightened and simplified wherever possible and a new, more efficient, airbrake was introduced. The M-356 is currently in late-stage development as of this writing (2012) with the list of potential buyers consistently growing.

The Italian Air Force is already committed to procuring the M-346 product (13 aircraft on order) and low-rate serial production is expected to begin soon. The United Arab Emirates evaluated the type and has committed to purchasing it as well (tentatively 48 total aircraft). Similarly, the Israeli Air Force (30) and Singapore (12) have selected the M-346 to become their next generation advanced trainers. The United States Air Force, currently in the market to upgrade its aging trainer fleet (which numbers in the hundreds and may include procurement of over 1,000 units from a given provider), has also shown some interest in the M-346 though its selection in the ongoing "T-X" program is considered a long shot.

Design of the M-346 is conventional featuring a tandem seat cockpit, mid-mounted monoplane wing assemblies and a traditional empennage. The student/primary pilot sits in the front cockpit with the instructor/ weapons officer in the rear cockpit. Vision out of the cockpit is excellent thanks to the use of a large, lightly-framed clear canopy. The rear view is obstructed by the raised fuselage spine. The cockpit sits behind a short and shallow nose cone assembly which permits excellent vision during ground travel. The fuselage is well-rounded at the edges with slab-sides promoting good aerodynamic flow. The aircraft is powered by a pair of engines buried within the fuselage and aspirated by a pair of intakes situated to either side of the cockpit and under each wings. The fuselage is short in its length and capped at the rear by a tall vertical tail fin. Horizontal tailplanes are fitted noticeably well-aft of the vertical tail fin while the engines exhaust under and ahead of the horizontal tailplanes through basic exhaust rings. The undercarriage is fully retractable and made up of a pair of single-wheeled main legs and a single-wheeled nose leg.

The M-346 will be powered by a pair of Honeywell F124-GA-200 series low-bypass turbofan engines, each generating 6,250lb of thrust. While the aircraft will be capable of Mach 1.2 speeds, it will generally operate at lower speeds when on basic cruise. Service ceiling is listed at 45,000 feet.

While the trainer versions will be generally unarmed or lightly-armed for practice, the dedicated light strike forms will be able to carry ordnance across nine total hardpoints - three under each wing, one at each wingtip and a sole position along fuselage centerline. Up to 6,600lbs of external stores will be allowed and this will include typical loadouts of air-to-air missiles (primarily at the wingtip mounts), air-to-surface missiles, guided munitions, conventional drop bombs, rocket pods and cannon pods. Three hardpoints are plumbed for accepting jettisonable fuel stores - the inboard-most underwing hardpoints and the fuselage centerline hardpoint. The M-346 will also sport a fixed aerial refueling probe ahead of the cockpit and offset to the starboard side. Such flexibility will allow the M-346 to undertake a variety of attack missions as needed and provide essentially unlimited operational ranges in a given theater.




PROGRAM UPDATES

September 2014 - Singapore has adopted the M-346 to overtake its aged line of Douglas A-4 Super Skyhawks as advanced jet trainers. With deliveries begun in 2012, a squadron has been arranged in France for formal training (Singapore lacks the necessary airspace). Some 12 M-346 aircraft make up the total Singaporean stock.

September 2015- It was announced that the Italians are set to begin M-346 training.

February 2016 - It was announced that Raytheon will be backing the M-346-based "T-100" as its entry into the USAF's advanced trainer competition known as "T-X". The design will sport 2 x Honeywell F124 turbofan engines and compete with the Lockheed-backed South Korean KAI T-50A offering (among others). The competition seeks to replace the aging stock of T-38 Talon trainers currently in service.

March 2016 - It was announced that Italy had ordered an additional nine M-346 advanced jet trainers.

July 2016 - it was announced that Leonardo-Finmeccanica is working to actively sell the light attack version of its M-346 Master advanced jet trainer. An example is to be displayed at Farnborough 2016 with service introduction estimated for 2018.

January 2017 - It was announced that the Raytheon / Leonardo team has withdrawn their T-100 entry for the USAF T-X trainer competition.

February 2017 - Apparently Leonardo is now teamed with DRS Technologies and is still hopeful in competing in the USAF T-X trainer competition. DRS will act as the U.S.-based representative of the deal. If selected, Leonardo plans to construct the M-346 at a new plant near Moton Field in Tusgekee, Alabama.

April 2017 - On April 12th, 2017, a prototype light-attack version of the M-346 was unveiled by Leonardo. Wingtip missile rails, an additional two hardpoints and a radar fit (FIAR Grifo-M) are just some of the improvements to the base trainer aircraft to make it more of an attack platform.

January 2018 - The Israeli Air Force has procured thirty M-346 advanced jet trainers to date.

March 2018 - Poland has contracted for an additional four M-346 advanced trainers from Leonardo. This brings the total M-346 fleet count to twelve aircraft. The four in question will be delivered prior to 2020. An optional four more airframes are also possible before 2022.
MEDIA









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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (659mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Leonardo (Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 Master's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
78
78

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Supported Arsenal
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircraft machine gun pod
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.