Based at Rivolto, in NE Italy, the Frecce Tricolori is the Italian Air Force aerobatic display team, the world’s largest one and the only that can claim credit for five records unmatched by any other aerobatic team in the world.
Since the 1980s, the Frecce Tricolori are equipped with a modified version of the Alenia Aermacchi MB.339A, a single engine tandem seat training and tactical support aircraft, with an overall blue color scheme and the onboard colored smokes generation system.
However, the MB.339 will be replaced by 2017 with a new aircraft, the Alenia Aermacchi M-345.
The news was given by the Italian Minister of Defense Mario Mauro, on Sept. 24, after the “Frecce” had completed 2013’s last display.
The aircraft type that will be assigned to the team is the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) a new basic-advanced trainer, expected to enter service with the Italian Air Force between 2017-2020.
The new HET is a further development of the M-345 jet trainer (formerly M-311), the latest solution proposed by Alenia Aermacchi for the basic-advanced phase of military pilot training.
The M-345 HET will be equipped with a turbofan engine in the 1.600 kg (3,500 lb) thrust class and will feature long endurance, high load factors (+7/-3,5 g), HUD (Head Up Display) in the front cockpit with repeater in the rear cockpit, MFDDs (multi-function digital displays) for both pilot stations and HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls.
Before Mauro announced the M-345 would replace the MB.339, the M-346 advanced jet trainer was believed to be the main (if not only) candidate to equip the Frecce Tricolori team.
Image credit: Alenia Aermacchi