M-346 could have a second chance in United States

M-346 USAF Light Attack experiment
The M-346 could have a second chance in the United States.

At the beginning of March 2019, the head of the USAF Air Combat Command, General James Holmes, said he had composed a team to evaluate if the new Boeing T-X trainer jet can cover the Aggressor and Light Attack roles and define the capabilities required for these tasks, according to Defense News. The team could also include the other aircraft that took part in the T-X Program in the evaluation, it will depend on the budget.

"An airplane like that, like all the airplanes that competed in the T-X category, an airplane like that at that size and cost per flying hour and capability is something I think we should definitely look at as we go forward in the experiment,” Holmes said.

This new activity complements the current Light Attack experiment involving two turboprop aircraft: Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and Textron AT-6 Wolverine. The news had already been anticipated earlier in the year by the Air Force Undersecretary, Matt Donovan. During a conference he declared their intention to extend the program to other aircraft.

The Light Attack program is clearly undergoing a phase of reassessment and anything can happen. We expect that aircraft such as the T-100 (M-346) can once again be evaluated.

The M-346 was one of the competitors of the Boeing aircraft in the T-X program and is certainly the most appropriate jet to meet the additional needs of the USAF. The new combat variant M-346FA is currently in an advanced development stage and includes all the features that a light attack aircraft should have. It has already been widely used by the Italian Air Force as Aggressor thanks to its great maneuverability and modern systems. It has already been tested in the launching of missiles. Many nations are currently looking at the FA variant to meet their need for multi-role light aircraft as Malaysia. It boasts a modern radar and can load a wide range of weapons.

See more details about the M-346FA here.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Leonardo

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