M-346 advanced combat trainer first weapon delivery tests

Taken at Decimomannu airbase last week, by Gian Luca Onnis, the following picture is the only available to date, of an M-346 advanced combat trainer flying with a BRD (Bombs and Rocket Dispencer).

Such pod, used by several aircraft types, is used to carry BDU-33 or Mk-106 practice bombs. The BDU-33 are used to “clone” the same launch characteristics of the 500-lb MK-82. Each BDU-33 weighs 25 pounds, has a teardrop shaped metal body with a tube cavity lengthwise through the center, a conical after body, and a cruciform type fin in the aft end of the bomb body. A firing pin, inertia tube, and striker plate are separate components of th e bomb. A receptacle is located forward of the center of gravity to install a single suspension lug if required.

The Mk-106s is a 5-pound thin-cased cylindrical bomb used to simulate the high-drag (retarded) Mk-82 Snakeye bombs. It is composed by a bomb body, a retractable suspension lug, a firing device, and box-type conical fins.

Since the picture shows the “Master” returing to the deployment base from a range sortie without any practice bomb, it is impossible to say which type of weapon delivery was being tested with the new plane. Nevertheless, the image is interesting since it proves that the combat trainer, selected by the Israeli Air Force, by the Republic of Singapore Air Force as well as the Italian Air Force, is currently involved in its first live firing tests.

In the following picture, two weird devices (most probably cameras used to film the weapon delivery) can be seen.

Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.