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05:36 AM, December 22, 2018
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M-345 Jet Trainer (image: Leonardo)

Leonardo’s first M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) production basic/advanced trainer aircraft performed its maiden flight at Venegono Superiore airport (Varese, Italy) today.

The Italian Air Force, the launch customer, has a requirement for up to 45 M-345s to progressively replace 137 aging MB-339s and to become the Italian Air Force’s new aerobatic team airplane. Italy has placed an order of 5 aircraft and the first will be delivered in early 2020, Leonardo said in a statement Friday.

The new M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) will integrate the M-346s used during the advanced training phase of the ITAF pilots. Cockpit architecture is the same as the frontline fighters. The aircraft can perform operational roles at high altitudes, modern avionics systems, high load capacity and performance.

The aircraft has an on-board training simulator and a Health and Monitoring Usage System (HUMS). The aircraft’s Mission Planning and Debriefing Station (MPDS) allows trainees to analyze the missions they have just flown. The M-345’s engine is a Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan. The cockpit is based on HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls and features a glass cockpit with a three-colour MFD (Multi-function Display) touch screen. The aircraft’s heads-up display is mirrored by a fourth screen in the rear seat, the company stated further.

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