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
- Italy to provide Israeli Air Force with the M-346, an advanced training plane that “already looks on to the F-35″. (theaviationist.com)
- M-346 advanced combat trainer’s HMD (Helmet Mounted Display) tested in night configuration (theaviationist.com)
- The new M-346 advanced jet trainer in Republic of Singapore Air Force (vintage) color scheme (theaviationist.com)
- Here’s the M-346 in Israeli Air Force colors (theaviationist.com)
- “Cleared hot”: the Italian AMX light combat planes to be cleared to carry (and use) bombs in Afghanistan (theaviationist.com)