This is the M-346, an Italian jet with great potential to replace the veteran F-5 as a fighter and attack trainer.

Last March, the Ministry of Defense announced an investment of 25 million euros between 2023 and 2024, guaranteeing the operation of the long-term F-5M Freedom Fighter at Wing-23 of the Talavera’s Fighter and Attack Training School. la Real (Badajoz), is scheduled to replace this aircraft for the next five years, until 2028. The goal is to upgrade the avionics and engines.

The Air and Space Army currently has a fleet of 19 F-5Ms in service at Ala 23 in Talavera La Real, which has been in service for over 50 years.. At the beginning of this century these aircraft underwent a modernization process to extend their life. Two decades later, his replacement is one of the priorities, as Air Chief of Staff Air General Javier Salto has emphasized on various occasions.

For his part, Secretary of State for Defense Amparo Valcarz has repeatedly insisted that a replacement for the F-5 will be in service by 2028. By 2024, he insisted, the plan to buy new aircraft “will be done.” should already be mature.” “, which will guarantee that the country will have new aircraft to train our fighter and attack pilots by 2028. As Sedef recalled, the training of fighter and attack pilots in Spain was considered “a strategic capability for the Air and Space Army”.

According to Valkars, the Air and Space Army has verified the requirement document for the Joint Advanced Aviation Training System’s General Staff for the fighter and alternative attack AE-09 (F-5’s internal designation) specialty. The need to replace the F-5 is prioritized within the framework of the military planning process and the preparation and review of military capabilities scope.

Facing this year 2023, he pointed out Sedef, the Ministry of Defense body in charge of acquisitions, the Directorate General of Armaments and Materials (DGAM) will carry out a series of activities, among which the analysis of industrial aspects will stand out “conditional on alternatives to acquisition”. ., technical and environmental aspects or possible collaborations with other European countries at the industrial level. “Whenever possible, an important investment like this has an economic return to Spain (…) and technological developments are negotiated that will affect cooperation with the Spanish industrial fabric, R&D and scientific and innovation organizations,” said the Secretary of State. Security.

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Key options

Defense has yet to give a clue about the potential aircraft that could replace the F-5. are among the options available in the market Italian Leonardo’s M-346 reactor or Korean KAI’s T-50. There is also speculation about a move to PC-21, A turboprop already in service with the Air and Space Army, neighboring air forces such as the French use it to train their fighter pilots.

In all these, The most likely flagship is the M-346, With good results for its characteristics and being in service in many countries. Thus, 22 units are in service in Italy; 30 in Israel; 12 in Singapore; Poland has 16… and orders from the air forces of Egypt, Nigeria or Azerbaijan.

That’s it, Leonardo’s Aermacchi M-346 is one of the most advanced jet trainers and is designed for a wide range of training capabilities, long-term reliability and cost-effective operations. One of the aircraft’s keys is its integrated training system, which is technologically advanced, allowing it to train pilots of a new generation of aircraft. About A twin-engine, tandem-seat aircraft State-of-the-art avionics with four-channel fly-by-wire flight control system, redundant key systems, multi-function displays (MFD), head-up displays (HUD) with latest human-machine interface, hands-on throttle controls and stick (HOTAS), In-flight safety features such as PARS (Pilot Activated Attitude Recovery System). An APU (auxiliary power unit) provides autonomous functions.

They are The Integrated Tactical Training System (ETTS) M-346 allows internal sensors, weapons, and computer-generated forces (CGF) to follow. Live (flight in flight), virtual (simulators) and constructive (ETTS) – the LVC environment allows pilots to interact in real-time with the virtual tactical situation, further improving flexibility and cost reduction.

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Additionally, the wide flight envelope, the High thrust-to-weight ratio and maneuverability Allow M-346 to be issued Handling next generation fighter jets like Eurofighter Typhoon or F-35. For example, we should not forget that in Italy the aforementioned fifth generation F-35 and its pilots are trained on this aircraft. This increases teaching efficiency and allows flight times to be shifted from more expensive line aircraft to operational replacement units.

An advanced mission management suite providing a modern Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and M-346 Embedded Tactical Training System (ETTS) is capable of creating a tactical scenario with threats and targets, computer-generated forces (friendly or enemy), sensors. And the weapons on board make the Master a true representative of the latest generation of fighter jets. The superior quality and features of the M-346 help increase training efficiency and allow for flight times to be downloaded from the operational replacement unit (OCU) to the training unit in the Lead in Fighter Trainer (LIFT) role.

Additionally, the M-346’s performance levels, flight characteristics, internal systems and Five main points (wet three) also provide significant capabilities as an auxiliary instructor, Red Air and, when armed for operational roles, “Air Police”. Operators benefit from a two-level maintenance concept (enterprise and intermediate) for aircraft, equipment and systems. Health and Utilization Monitoring System (HUMS) and Structural Health System (S-HUMS) enable monitoring and data collection of internal equipment and airframe.

Key features

  • Worry-free handling function in all flight conditions
  • ETTS for air-to-air and air-to-ground training
  • Two independent heads-up scenes with sophisticated battle symbology
  • Two independent helmet mounted sights
  • Fully compatible with NVG Cockpit
  • Comfortable environment and panoramic view from both rooms
  • Air-to-air refueling capability
  • No scheduled structural maintenance at warehouse level
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  • Wingspan: 9.72 m
  • Length: 11.49 m
  • Maximum speed: 1,090 kmph
  • Sustained load factor: 8.0 g
  • Maximum Height: 13.715 m
  • Propulsion System: 2 Honeywell F124-GA-200 turbofans
  • Thrust: 2 x 2,850 kg

There is also a version of the M-346FA, the Fighter Attack, which works as a light fighter, developed from the previous one, a more efficient and reliable multi-role, radar-equipped, increasingly capable of meeting customer operational requirements. .

The M-346FA is equally well suited for air-to-ground (CAS/COIN and precision guided air interdiction), air-to-air (police and homeland security) and tactical reconnaissance missions.

Leonardo Electronics Grifo-M346 multi-mode radar, specifically optimized for the M-346FA with IFF interceptor, compatible with air-to-air and air-to-ground missions; Tandem seating configuration suitable for complex air-to-ground missions, with excellent visibility from both seats; Advanced network communications packages including tactical data link; seven external points for various types of weapons and external storage; A four-channel fly-by-wire flight control system with dual-engine configuration, hydraulic and electric redundancy, and worry-free management; air-to-air refueling capability for long range/endurance and station time; The Embedded Tactical Training System (ETTS) was implemented as an alternative to actual weapons and sensor training; Defensive Aids Sub System (DASS), which includes Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Missile Approach Warning (MAW), Chaff & Flare Dispenser.

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