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
Wow, Israel is going to buy and operate this aircraft? Imagine if an Arabian/Persian air force buys and operates the Yak-130. Confusion upon confusion in that battlefield. However F-15’s and ’16s now fly in an awful lot of Middle Eastern air forces. So I guess this would not nothing too new. It’ll be interesting to see how much Western market penetration the M-346 will make. I must say it’s a novel way for Russian designs to work their way into the Western market. Humm …. I wonder if I can start a business making an all Western version of the Su-27 series …..