M-346 Master is flying with the AIM-9 replacement: the IRIS-T missile.
Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master advanced jet trainer has started testing a new weapon at Decimomannu airbase: the IRIS-T (Infra Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) missile.
Developed within a German-led multinational program as a short-range air-to-air missile to replace the ageing AIM-9 Sidewinder the IRIS-T has a range of 25 km and can engage targets flying behind the launching platform thanks to an extreme close-in agility which allows turns of 60 g at a rate of 60°/s.
IRIS-T is a missile already integrated on the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Interestingly, as the top image (taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Giovanni Maduli) shows, the dummy IRIS-T missile was carried on an underwing pylon while previous tests with the AIM-9L Sidewinder were carried out with the air-to-air missiles mounted on the wing tip launchers.
The M-346 has been selected by the Italian Air Force, the Polish Air Force, the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Israeli Air Force that will use the “Master” to replace the A-4 Skyhawks.
Image credit: Giovanni Maduli