M-346 Master Advanced Fighter Trainer, Italy

The M-346 Master is an advanced and lead-in fifth-generation fighter trainer being developed by Alenia Aermacchi (Italy), a Finmeccanica company. The aircraft is a development of the YAK/AEM-130, a joint programme with Yakolev Design Bureau and Sokol Manufacturing Plant of Russia. In July 2000, Alenia Aermacchi announced that it would cancel the joint project and develop the aircraft alone, as the M-346.

Project Yak / Aermacchi YAK/AEM-130

In 1992, Aermacchi signed a cooperation agreement with Yakovlev to provide financial and technical support for the new trainer that the firm had been developing since 1991 for the Russian Air Force in competition with the Mikoyan MiG-AT; Aermacchi also gained the right to modify and market the aircraft for the Western market. The resulting aircraft first flew in 1996 and was brought to Italy the following year to replace the aging MB-339. By this point, the aircraft was being marketed as the Yak/AEM-130. In February 1996, Russia provided initial funding for the Yak/AEM-130 and pledged to purchase up to 200 aircraft for the Russian Air Force.

In October 1998, it was reported that the venture was increasingly becoming an Italian-led effort due to a lack of financial support on the part of Russia. By July 2000, Aermacchi held a 50% stake in the development programme, Yakovlev and Sokol had a 25% share each. In mid-2000, it was announced that differences in priorities between the two firms, and a lack of financial backing from the programme’s Russian participants, had brought about an end to the partnership, and that each firm would pursue development of the aircraft independently; Yakovlev received US$77 million for technical documents of the aircraft. Yakovlev would be able to sell the Yak-130 to countries such those in the Commonwealth of Independent States, India, Slovakia and Algeria; while Aeromacchi would be able to sell the M-346 to NATO countries, among others. Source @wikiwand.com


The M-346 provides combat pilot training for front line fighters with high angle-of-attack capability. The aerodynamic design of the M-346 uses vortex lift to provide manoeuvrability and controllability at very high angle-of-attack using a fly-by-wire control system.

See details of Yak-130: HEREnebo-yak-130-yak-130-quot

The YAK/AEM-130 has flown in prototype form since 1996. As the Yak-130, the aircraft was selected in March 2002 as the Russian AF’s next generation combat trainer.

M-346 Master fighter trainer development

The M-346 prototype completed its first flight in July 2004. The second prototype made its maiden flight in May 2005. The first low-rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft made its maiden flight in July 2008. The M-346 equipped with advanced helmet-mounted display systems completed its maiden flight in May 2010.

Image @theaviationist.com

M-346’s HMD (Helmet Mounted Display), designed by the VSI, the same firm that manufactures the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System).

Built around the HGU-55P flight helmet, the new, futuristic device is currently being offered to the Polish Air Force to train student pilots destined to the F-16 Block 52+. Source @theaviationist.com

Aermacchi M-346 Prototype by Glenn Alderton

The Italian Air Force (ITAF), the launch customer, received the first batch of 15 M-346 Master aircraft. Alenia Aermacchi signed a €220m ($330m) contract with ITAF in June 2009 to supply six M-346 jets. The first two of the six M-346 aircraft were unveiled in December 2010..

RIAT 2006 (Royal International Air Tattoo) RAF Fairford (FFD/EGVA), Gloucestershire, United Kingdom 15 – 16 July 2006 Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master (CMX615), c/n: 6962/001, Alenia Aermacchi, Venegono Superiore, Italy
– The first prototype of Aermacchi M346.

ITAF designated the M-346 as T-346A which made its maiden flight in March 2011. The General Directorate for Aeronautical Armaments of the Ministry of Defence issued the military certification for the M-346 jet on 22 June 2011.

T-346A “Aggressor” al Tactical Leadership Programme

The first T-346A aircraft was accepted by ITAF in November 2011. The second aircraft was delivered in February 2012. The contract also involves a five-year maintenance and logistics support. The M-346 was successful in its first air-to-air refuelling tests and several techniques performed by ITAF and the company pilots.


Italy has raised the number of firm orders for the M-346 Master jet trainer from 9 to 18, aircraft manufacturer Finmeccanica reported on Tuesday 22 March.

The Italian Air Force uses the M-346 as a replacement for the older MB339 in the Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) and agressor dissimilar air combat training roles.

The M-346 is operated in southern Italy by the Italian Air Force’s 61th wing at Lecce airbase. Israel and Singapore also operate the type, with Poland set to join this year. Posted 2016/03/22 © 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest @airheadsfly.com

M-346 Master training aircraft orders and deliveries

In April 2009, Alenia Aermacchi received the design organisation military approval (DOMA) certificate for the M-346 Master allowing autonomous and direct management of the homologation process including continuation of its airworthiness. DOMA also enables Alenia Aermacchi to streamline M-346 interface with the DGAA (Direzione Generale Armamenti Aeronauticiefficient) and improve internal design and development processes of the aircraft.

In January 2005, the Greek Ministry of Defence signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to become a partner in the programme and, in January 2006, Alenia Aermacchi signed an industrial cooperation agreement with Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) under which HAI is responsible for production and assembly of some parts including the rear fuselage.

In May 2006, Alenia Aermacchi announced an agreement with Boeing to jointly market the M-346.

In July 2007, the M-346 flew to the United Arab Emirates for hot weather tests and operational evaluation by the UAE Air Force.

Image @armyrecognition.com

In February 2009, the UAE announced that it would acquire 48 M-346 advanced lead-in fighter trainer aircraft. Alenia Aermacchi will form a joint venture with Mubadala Development in UAE for establishing the M-346 final assembly line.

ST Aerospace signed a €170m contract with Alenia Aermacchi on 24 June 2011 for providing logistics support to 12 M-346 trainers deployed by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The M-346 jets were ordered by the RSAF in September 2010 under the Fighter Wings Course programme. The first aircraft was rolled out in August 2012 for delivery towards the end of 2012.

Alenia Aermacchi will also supply spare parts, provide repair and overhaul services and render engineering and field support services.

The M-346 trainer was selected by the Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD) in February 2012. Israeli MoD placed an order with Alenia Aermacchi for 30 M-346 aircraft in July 2012. Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2014.

ebe8ff9dbaddb8b13dc6a2f0237a952bFrst Israeli M-346 Image @airheadsfly.com

M-346 weapons

Armaments are carried on nine external store stations, six of which are underwing, equipped with 1,000lb class ejector release units, and two wingtip stations for air-to-air missiles. The under-fuselage station carries avionics pods or a 300l conformal fuel tank.

m346-5_zpshsvnuhst.jpgM-346 with 3  conformal fuel tanks

The system data presentation and control functions of the stores management system use any one of the multifunction displays in both cockpits. Hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) controls are used to select the weapons. Weapon aiming is controlled by the central main processor, aiming data being presented to the pilots through the head-up display (HUD) or the helmet-mounted display (HMD).

Image @militaryedge.org

Israel and Poland are to join Italy in fielding the Elbit Systems Targo helmet-mounted display (HMD) system on their Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainer aircraft, IHS Jane’s was told in early April.

While Alenia had previously disclosed Italy’s plans to buy the Targo for its T-346A Master aircraft, a company spokesperson revealed that Israel and Poland have also now opted to use the system to reduce operational costs as part of a wider embedded training package. Source @militaryedge.org


Digital JHMCS and JHMCS II are highly accurate pilot information systems that provides pilots with “first look, first shot” high off-boresight weapons engagement capability and situational awareness. Both systems enable the pilot to accurately direct (cue) onboard weapons and sensors against enemy targets while performing high-G aircraft maneuvers. The pilot simply points his/her head at the target and weapons will be directed to where the pilot is looking for both airborne and ground targets. As a cueing system, JHMCS II is a two way interface where sensors aboard the aircraft can cue the pilot to potential targets, or the pilot can cue the weapons and sensor systems to areas of interest. Critical information and symbology including targeting cues and aircraft performance parameters are graphically displayed directly on the pilot’s visor.

Virtual HUD
Data Link
Blue Forces Tracker
Defensive Systems
Designating and Targeting


Detailed Features and Technical Description

  • Night module with color symbology is provided by a simple NVG eyepiece replacement kit for fielded NVG F4949/ANVIS-9 NVGs
  • JHMCS II displays video, FLIR and data link information in either full view or picture-in-picture view
  • Uplook reticles (puppers) for very-high off boresight sensor slewing
  • Small diameter, low voltage helmet vehicle interface (HVI) cable
  • Cockpit Unit (CU) which provides high voltage is no longer required
  • Helmet mounted avionics significantly improve center of gravity and pilot comfort
  • Dual visor configuration available
  • Visor projected High Definition color video and symbology (800×600 image resolution)
  • Standard HGU-55/P Helmet
  • Total head borne weight is 4.3 lbs. including oxygen mask
  • 28 VDC
  • Interface supports MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet, USB, and Wireless
  • Fully customizable ICD, display and logic
  • Recordable
  • Day module is monocular with a 20 degree field-of-view (FOV) off-the-visor projection to the right eye
  • The night module combines standard night vision goggles (NVGs) with a unique display that provides symbology and video overlaid on the night imagery
  • Capable of displaying both symbology and video
  • Symbology and logic can be modified by the customer utilizing an optional software tool without the need for Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) support 

Data @jhmcsii.com

The weapons carried include: MK82 500lb and MK83 1,000lb free fall or retarded bombs; rocket launchers; AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles; Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles; MBDA (formerly Alenia) Marte MK-2A anti-ship missiles.


External store integration includes:

  • GBU-12 (500 lb) Paveway II LGB
  • GBU-49 (500 lb) Enhanced Paveway II GPS/LGB
  • Lizard 2 LGB (500 lb)
  • GBU-38 (500 lb) JDAM
  • Lizard 4 LGB (500 lb)
  • Small Diameter Bomb (SDB)
  • Rocket Launchers
  • MK.82 (500 lb) general-purpose bomb
  • MK.82HD Snakeye (500 lb) general-purpose bomb
  • Gun pod
  • Air-to-Air Missiles
  • External Fuel tanks (630 lt each)
  • Recce pod
  • Target Designator Pod

Source @Leonardo – Finmeccanica

GBU-12 (500 lb) Paveway II LGBcmt1379481603

GBU-49 (500 lb) Enhanced Paveway II GPS/LGBegbu12rocket.RGB_color.0008.jpg82cbec4b-6b01-4a1f-8bbc-1fdcf342810cOriginal.jpg

Lizard 2 LGB (500 lb)

ORD_Lizard_LGB_lg.jpgImage @defenceindustrydaily.com

LIZARD is an advanced new generation laser-guided bomb used for air-to-surface attacks of a variety of targets that are illuminated by a laser designator.

The LIZARD system features high accuracy, all digital electronics, and compatibility with a broad range of airborne and ground laser designators. The LIZARD modular design provides growth for Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance capability in adverse weather scenario and an alternative Autonomous Imaging InfraRed seeker for attack of a variety of mobile targets. Source @nibbio14.altervista.org

Small Diameter Bomb (SDB)03.jpgfc8ab9d6-9d85-4bb3-912f-817d1e976afbOriginal.jpg

The Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) system is the next generation of low-cost and low collateral-damage precision strike weapons for internal and external carriage. With a range greater than 60 nautical miles, SDB’s precision guidance and compact size allow today’s warfighters to surgically prosecute more targets per sortie.

GBU-39/B Weapon:

•  Dimensions: (L x W): 70.8″ x 7.5″ (1.8 m x 19 cm)
•  Weapon Weight: 285 lbs. (130 kg)
•  Warhead: 206 lb. (93 kg) penetrating blast fragmentation
•  Warhead penetration: >3 feet of steel reinforced concrete
•  Fuze: electronic safe/arm fuze (ESAF) cockpit selectable functions, including air burst and delayed burst options
•  Standoff maximum range: more than 60 nautical miles
•  Precision inertial navigation system/global positioning system (INS/GPS)
•  Anti-jam GPS and selective-ability anti-spoofing module (SAASM)

The pneumatic SDB carriage allows four weapons to be carried in one aircraft weapon station. The SDB Focused Lethality Munition (FLM) variant incorporates a carbon fiber composite warhead case and an advanced multiphase blast explosive for precision engagements with ultra-low collateral damage outside the blast zone.

BRU-61/A Carriage System:

•  Payload capacity: four weapons
•  Weight: 320 lbs. (145 kg) empty, 1,460 lbs. (664 kg) loaded
•  Dimensions (L x W x H): 143″ x 16″ x 16″ (3.6 m x 40.6 cm x 40.6 cm)

Source @boeing.ca

MK82 500lb

MK.82HD Snakeye (500 lb) general-purpose bombbom-MK82-Snake-eye

AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missileaim9_1a_pnga4b6c207-fe3a-4979-8e22-e3466680e30bLarge

The Sidewinder is the most widespread Air-to-Air missile in the world; its first version, the AIM-9B, entered service in 1953 and since then it has been continuously updated up to the latest versions AIM-9L and AIM-9M and it boasts many imitation attempts, like the Russian AA-2 “Atoll” or the Israeli Rafael “Shafrir 2”.

It features four detachable double-delta control surfaces behind the nose and a roll stabilizing rear wing/rolleron assembly. The main components of the missiles are an infrared homing guidance system with “all aspect” capability, an explosive/fragmentation warhead weighting about 10 Kg and an active optical target detector. According to the avionic system of the carrier aircraft, the missile can be fired in two modes:

  • “Boresight Mode”: IR seeker slaved to the aircraft weapon aiming system
  • “Scan Mode”: IR seeker performs autonomous scanning
Technical specification
Length: 2.87 m
Diameter: 127 mm
Wing span: 0.64 m
Weight: 87 Kg
Warhead: 9.5 Kg HE/fragmentation
Fuze: Active Laser
Guidance: IR
Propulsion sys.: Rocket motor, solid propellant
Range: 8 Km

Source @nibbio14.altervista.org

Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles

Marte MK-2A anti-ship missiles

Sea Killer is an Italian anti-ship missile. It has been built in several versions, with differing guidance systems, and suitable for launching from ships or aircraft (in which form the weapons system is known as Marte).

Marte 2A Modified version of Marte 2 for launch from fixed wing aircraft, with booster rocket omitted.

2132756Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master  Photographer  Mick Bajcar @airliners.netyak4

The external hard points can also carry the Vinten VICON-601 reconnaissance pod, laser designator pod, radar warning receiver pod and Elettronica ELT-55 electronic countermeasures pod.

Vinten VICON-601 reconnaissance pod

461e5e15b734e_large.jpgImage @saairforce.co.za

Elettronica ELT-555 electronic countermeasures podelt_555_v-3_epdc

ELT/555 family is an active self-protection systems for fighter aircraft (in pod installation): is designed to provide a wide range of jamming techniques (deception, noise, etc…), suitable to face both traditional and new threats characterized by coherent radar (Pulse, Doppler, Pulse Coded, etc…) associated to AAA, SAM, AI, AAM systems.

Two versions are provided: the former with TWT transmitter and a traditional sectorial antenna is capable to jam at the same time 2 CW emissions and two pulsed emission with low duty, the latter is characterized by a set of rice-transmitting antennas based on solid state Phased Array and is able to manage 4 emissions simultaneously, regardless the duty.

The ELT/555 family systems can operate autonomously, both in threats acquisition and designation threats, or in cooperation with external passive system (i.e.: RWR) Source @elettronica-elt-roma.com

**Note there must be a typo error as there is no ELT-55 listed on ELT wibesite

For fighter trainer role, self-protection system functions and simulated tactical scenario threats are presented and monitored on the multifunction displays.

For operational roles, the aircraft is fitted with a radar warning receiver, chaff and flares dispensers, and active electronic countermeasures.

Dual-Role M-346 to Shift From Trainer to Fighter ‘At Flick of a Switch’ 

m-346ftM-346FT – Image @ptisidiastima.files.wordpress.com

Italy’s Leonardo-Finmeccanica is promising that its planned M-346 dual-role aircraft will be able to turn from trainer to fighter “at the flick of a switch.”

Managers discussed the program on Friday ahead of the Farnborough Air Show, where the dual-role version of the trainer aircraft, complete with seven hard points, will be shown off.

Massimo Ghione, marketing senior vice president, said the aircraft would be able to fly an armed, operational mission before being handed over to a student for a training mission.

“You could keep the armaments, but with one switch stop them being fired,” he said. “Nobody else can do this,” he added.

With both air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons planned for the aircraft, Leonardo-Finmeccanica is hoping to woo customers looking for the economy of one aircraft doing two jobs.

“We realized customers need an aircraft that can do two missions,” said Ghione.

Leonardo-Finmeccanica will also present at Farnborough a mock-up of the version of the M-346 that will be offered — with Raytheon as prime contractor — in the US TX trainer bid.

Ghione said the offering would differ from the M-346 already in service, which has three cockpit displays. To make the aircraft more closely aligned to the F-35, which has one display, the TX offering would also have one display, he said.

yourfileModel of cockpit of T-100 for the TX program @flightglobal.com

The M-346 has now been sold to Italy, Israel, Poland and Singapore, and Ghione said talks were underway with Taiwan, which has a requirement for around 60 aircraft.

Leonardo-Finmeccanica was talking to Taiwanese state firm AIDC about teaming on the development of a Taiwanese trainer based on the M-346, he said. Source @defensenews.com

FIA 2016: Leonardo-Finmeccanica unveils M-346FT 

Leo Aermacchi M-346FT_lowM-346FT – Image @adsadvance.co.uk

The Aermacchi M-346FT aircraft – Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s multi-role version of the M-346 trainer aircraft – made its official debut at the Farnborough International Air Show (FIA) today.

The M-346FT (above) is the multi-role version of the M-346, designed to make it easy for pilots to transition from the trainer aircraft configuration to operational mission.

Mauro Moretti, Leonardo’s CEO and General Manager, said: “We Invest in the technological development of highest-added-value activities so that we can stay one step ahead of our competitors. The technological excellence of our trainers is acknowledged worldwide and today we are ready to offer our customers an aircraft capable of combining the operational and training requirements of the Air Forces all over the world, assuring top performances and remarkably lower costs.”

Based on the advanced trainer M-346, the FT (Fighter Trainer) variant integrates a wide range of systems and sensors for tactical support and air defence, a tactical data link, a self defence system, recognition and targeting sensors and a series of weapon systems. This aircraft’s configuration is representative of a basic version with operational capabilities that can be integrate with additional sensors in the future. Posted 11 July 2016 @adsadvance.co.uk

First braking parachute tests for Polish M-346: Here



Leonardo’s aircraft division has conducted the first round of tests of the braking parachute system installed on the Aermacchi M-346s to be operated by the Polish air force.

One of several nation-specific modifications, further trials will now be performed to secure certification for the system.

The evaluations are being carried out using Poland’s second production aircraft, which first flew at the end of September. 


Image @military-today.com

The cockpit is representative of the latest-generation combat aircraft, and each crew position is equipped with raster / stroke type head-up display (HUD), full-colour liquid crystal multifunction displays (three in each cockpit), helmet-mounted display with threat simulation capability, night-vision goggle (NVG) compatible instrumentation and hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) controls.


The cockpits can be fitted with MK16 ejection seats from Martin Baker of Uxbridge, UK.

MK16 ejection seats from Martin Baker


Currently used in F-35, Eurofighter, T-6 Texan II, Rafale and T-38/F-5. Source @martin-baker.com


The avionics architecture is based on a dual-redundant MIL-STD-1553B digital data bus which has capacity for additional systems. The communication suite includes a VHF/UHF transceiver and an information friend of foe (IFF) transponder. The navigation suite includes a laser gyro inertial navigation system with an embedded GPS receiver, and a tactical air navigation (TACAN) and VHF omnidirectional radio ranging (VOR/IIS/MB).

The flight control system (FCS) is a full authority digital fly-by-wire quadruple-redundant system, which includes four BAE Systems Italia flight control computers.

The FCS provides the aircraft with controllability up to angles of attack (AoA) of 35° and higher, g-limitation, stall and spin prevention, and maximum Angle of Attack (AoA) limitation.

It can be adapted to various degrees of automation and autopilot modes with reversionary modes featuring automatic selection for use in case of damage or failures.

GRIFO-346 radar



  • Multimode, multirole X-band
  • Multiple channels fully coherently pulse doppler processed
  • Open architecture
  • Air cooled, high efficiency TWT transmitter
  • Advanced processor
  • Broad suite of field proven air-to-air, air-to-surface and navigation modes, high resolution SAR and ISAR
  • Full set of ECCM provisions
  • Tracking accuracy supporting missiles release and guidance
  • Monopulse flat plate slotted array antenna
  • Growth capability to extend the existing features, including sensor fusion with IRST

Operational Advantages

  • Comprehensive suite of operational modes supporting A/A and A/S missions
  • Long range detection and tracking in all scenarios: lookup and look-down, any altitude, any aspect
  • High Resolution imaging: sub-metric SAR and ISAR
  • Wide scan sector
  • Multiple target tracking
  • HOTAS and HMD designation
  • Modern, effective, flexible, and operationally proven
  • ECCM provisions

Design Advantages

  • Fully coherent, high efficiency TWT-based, air-cooled transmitter
  • Multiple channel receiver
  • High rate DSP, wideband waveform generator
  • Four waveforms (LPRF, MPRF, MPRF look-up, HPRF), all including range and velocity de-stagger for optimal target detection in any clutter condition
  • Embedded scan converter and symbol generator
  • Modular software architecture for radar modes update and customisation

Integration with Weapon System

Multiple target tracking supporting accurate weapons aiming

  • Compatibility with modern IR missiles (e.g. AIM-9L-M-X, Python 4)
  • Support of CCIP and CCRP through precise air-to-surface ranging


Weight < 100kg

Cooling air cooled

Dissipation < 1.5 kW

Average Transmitted Power Class of 200W

Frequency X-band

Scan Coverage ± 60° both in Azimuth and Elevation

Key Parameters

Track while scan 10 targets tracked, 8 displayed

SAR resolution < 1m

Track formation range > 50 NM

Look-up detection range > 60 NM

Source file @Finmeccanica Company

Turbofan engines

Povazke Strojarne L.M. was to be the supplier of the two DV-2S twin-shaft turbofan engines for the YAK/AEM-130. For the M-346, these are replaced with two Honeywell / ITEC F124-GA-200 turbofan engines, produced with Fiat Avio.

There is also a closed-circuit self-contained aerobatics lubrication system and dual channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC).


The M-346 can climb at the rate of 127m/s. The maximum and cruise speed of the aircraft are 1,092km/h and 1,059km/h respectively. Its stall speed is 166km/h. The range and service ceiling of the M-346 are 2,590km and 13,700m respectively. Its take-off run is 320m, while the landing run is 470m. The aircraft weighs around 4,610kg and its maximum take-off weight is 9,000kg

Main material source @airforce-technology.com

Entered service 2011
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 11.49 m
Wing span 9.72 m
Height 4.98 m
Weight (empty) 4.61 t
Weight (maximum take off) 9.5 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x Honeywell F-124-GA-200 turbofans
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 2 x 27.8 kN
Maximum speed 1 255 km/h
Service ceiling 13.7 km
Range 1 890 km
Combat radius ~ 550 km
Cannon ?
Missiles ?
Bombs ?

Specification data @military-today.com


‘Evaluation Notes’

For the “Maneuverability” and “Payload and Range” sections, the following considerations were made:
– Weights with 100% internal fuel was used to try to simulate the aircraft going into combat with full internal fuel after dropping their External Fuel Tanks.
– The weights of the armaments were not included as the RATIOS and DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BOTH AIRCRAFT will remain the same if they will be armed with the same type and same number of armaments.
– Fuel density of 0.81 kg/l was used to convert fuel capacity to kilograms



– LIMIT LOAD FACTOR: Equal for both aircraft
– WING LOADING: 19% advantage for the Master over the Geagle
– THRUST TO WEIGHT RATIO: 18% advantage for the Geagle over the Master
+++ Both aircraft are roughly equal in terms of overall maneuverability as while the Master can turn tighter than the Geagle in the horizontal plane, the Geagle is superior than the Master in the vertical plane by around the same amount.

‘Payload and Range’


– INTFF: Equal for both aircraft
– PAYLOAD: Favors the Geagle again as it can carry 23% (680 kg) more load than the Master
+++ Favors the Geagle as it can carry more load than the Master over the same distance

‘Air Combat-related Avionics and Weapons’


– WVR COMBAT: Equal because even though the Master has a Helmet Mounted Sight, it cannot fully take advantage of it in WVR combat without the use of High Off Boresight Missiles.
– BVR COMBAT: Although both do not have BVR missiles, the Geagle at least has a radar that enable it to detect the track the Master on its own from afar, something which the Master cannot do since it doesn’t have a radar.
+++ The Geagle have the overall advantage in air combat as its radar will give it a first look, first shot capability over the Master.
+++ Not in the list above is the fact that the Master does NOT have an internal gun, while the Geagle has an internal 3-barreled version of the M61 20 mm Vulcan Gatling gun designated as A-50. The Master of course can carry a Gun Pod, but that means taking away allocation of one Pylon for other weapons or External Fuel Tank (EFT), and also less weight allocated for other weapons or EFTs.

‘Multi-Mode Radar Capability’

The Geagle’s EL/M-2032 radar may have a relatively low air to air detection range, but at least it has a radar, and the promise of integrating more capable weapons like BVR missiles will be faster and easier later on.

Alenia does insist that there is provision for a Multi-Mode Radar (MMR) for the Master, but fitting one will mean more cost and more time eaten away due to qualification and certification for that radar. The Master’s lack of an MMR can be an advantage for it as an AJT because for one, it means less cost for the overall aircraft. Another is that it means less system and parts to breakdown since there is no radar to maintain, hence also lowering the maintainance cost. However, it does limit the aircraft’s effectiveness in its secondary role as a combat aircraft.

‘Speed Difference’

Another difference between the two aircraft is SPEED. The Master’s 2 engines does not have afterburners, and it is mainly a transonic aircraft, able to reach supersonic speeds only at higher altitudes where air resistance is lower and only when it is in a slight dive. The Geagle, on the other hand, has a full afterburning engine enabling it to reach much higher speeds at most (if not all rated) altitudes, and is a true supersonic aircraft. The Geagle’s maximum speed is 1,770 kph at 3,000 m, while the Master can only reach up to 1,270 kph at the 14,000 m (computed based on rated maximum speed of Mach 1.2).

‘Parting Shot’

The M-346 Master can turn tighter horizontally than the Geagle, but the Geagle is faster, has the advantage in the vertical plane, can carry more load and has better combat capability with its multi-mode radar and internal gun. The Master I imagine would be the better dedicated AJT, but clearly the Geagle is the better combat aircraft.

There aren’t that many brand new AJTs now in the market, after the Geagle and the Master there is the BAE Hawk and L159, but both aircraft have their own issues as well, like the fact that both are limited only to subsonic speeds. Among the these 4 aircraft, the Geagle is the most capable and closest to a combat aircraft, hence not getting the Geagle will mean even less capability for our air force’s already low capability to defend our airspace. But it is something we may not have a choice with in the end …

Read full article: HERE

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