Turkmenistan appears to be new M-346 customer

Leonardo M-346FA.

Turkmenistan appears to have entered into an agreement with Leonardo to procure M-346FA light combat aircraft, various media have said in the past few hours. These news are not based on official statements, but on details that emerged from a report by the Italian government and a press release from the manufacturer.

According to the 2019 armament export document that the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared with the Senate in early May, Turkmenistan emerged to be the second largest export customer of the year, after Egypt. In 2019 Ashgabat purchased € 446.1 million of unspecified Italian military products.

Furthermore, Leonardo confirmed last year the sale of six M-346 aircraft in the "FA" light attack variant to an undisclosed customer.

Turkmenistan is known to be interested in the Italian-made jet. In 2018, an M-346 was on display in Turkmenistan - probably as part of a promotional tour - and Turkmenian President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was photographed inside the cockpit.

Although the type of systems Turkmenistan purchased is not currently known, there is a good chance the shopping list also includes the M-346. If so, the Asian nation would become the launch customer of the attack variant of Leonardo's proven advanced trainer jet.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Leonardo

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