The M-346 “Master” Advanced Combat Trainer is getting a new type of fuel tank.
Taken at Decimomannu airbase by The Aviationist’s contributor Gian Luca Onnis, the above picture shows an M-346 “Master” advanced combat trainer carrying three 630l (450kg) external fuel tanks
Interestingly, the shape of the fuel tanks is different from that of the drop tanks initially carried by the Master prototypes (as those shown in the image below) which resembled th 500l (380kg) type carried on outer wing pylons by Italian Air Force AMX light fighter bombers.
Although the new type of tank was showcased as part of the external loads of the M-346 at international air shows in the past, the plane was rarely spotted flying with this kind of tanks, let alone three of them.
The M-346 has been selected by the Italian Air Force, the Republic of Singapore Air Force, Polish Air Force, and the Israeli Air Force that will use the “Master” to replace the A-4 Skyhawks.
Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis
The first M-346 advanced trainer in the colors of the Israeli Air & Space Force was rolled out at Alenia Aermacchi’s plant in Venegono Superiore, Italy.
The first of 30 M-346 advanced jet trainer aircraft selected by the Israeli Air Force to replace the TA-4 Skyhawk currently operated by the IAF was presented to the authorities on Mar. 20.
The first M-346 is expected to be delivered to the IAF in summer 2014.
The “Master” has also been recently ordered by Poland, the fourth customer of the advanced trainer that is already in service with the Italian and Republic of Singapore Air Force. A total of 56 M-346 have been ordered so far.
Image credit: Alenia Aermacchi
U.S. Coast Guard finally got authorization to acquire the last 14 Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan that the USAF was going to mothball, through an intra service transfer.
Ever since the Air Force announced back in 2012 that they were mothballing the entire fleet of C-27Js to save money, the Coast Guard, US Forest Service and US SOCOM (Special Operations Command) have all been eyeing either part of or all of the remaining fleet of. Back in October of 2013 SOCOM was authorized to receive 7 of the cargo planes to replace its fleet of CASA 212 aircraft.
The 14 C-27Js will supplement a fleet of 15 CH-144s: the USCG had originally ordered 36 of the CH-144s but halved the order once they learned that they could acquire the C-27Js directly from the Air Force at no cost.
In a press release the Coast Guard said that initial flight operations will start with in six to twelve months. Once in operation the Spartans will be used for medium range surveillance, maritime patrol, drug and immigration interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue.
Also the Coast Guard plans on upgrading all 14 Spartans with tailored mission kits to include surface-search radars, electro-optical sensors and mission suites.
Bjørn Broten for TheAviationist.com
Started on Nov. 27 at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, flying activity aimed at integrating the MBDA Storm Shadow missile, a 1.300 kg standoff weapon (over 5-mt long), onto Eurofighter Typhoon multi-/swing role aircraft continues.
The Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) Typhoon, updated to the Phase 1 Enhancement standard, carrying two stealthy, long-range precision Storm Shadow missiles was spotted at Deci airbase in the last weeks.
The photographs in this post, taken by The Aviationist contributor Gian Luca Onnis, provide a closer look at the Typhoon configuration, featuring two AIM-9L Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAMs along with the Storm Shadows.
Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis
Integration of the MBDA Storm Shadow missile onto Eurofighter Typhoon multi-/swing role aircraft has started.
Eurofighter and Alenia Aermacchi have released some images of the initial flight trials that began on Nov. 27, by the Alenia Aermacchi Flight Test Center at Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, Italy. Such tests, supported by BAE Systems and Cassidians, are aimed to demonstrate that the air-launched cruise missile, already in service with both the Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force Tornado bombers (that used them in the 2011 Libya Air War), can be safely carried by the Typhoon.
The testing campaign involves the Instrumented Production Aircraft 2 (IPA2) updated to the Phase 1 Enhancement standard. The aircraft will conduct flutter tests and air data system large store interference assessment to validate the integration of the new weapon that will give the aircraft a significant capability to employ the stealthy, long-range precision weapon against high value, well defended targets, day or night, in all-weather conditions.
According to Eurofighter, the 1.300 kg standoff weapon (over 5-mt long) will be available to the 7 Typhoon operators (Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman) from 2015 when the Eurofighter Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancements become operational.
Image credit: Eurofighter/Luigino Caliaro