Analysis: M-346FA for Serbia

Serbia will soon have to replace SOKO G-4 Super Galeb and SOKO J-22 Orao light attack aircraft. The M-346FA meets all country's requirements.

Leonardo M346 Fighter Attack Serbia
Aermacchi M-346FA. 

Last summer, a Serbian government spokesman said in an interview with local TV that the nation has begun to look to a replacement for the SOKO G-4 Super Galeb and SOKO J-22 Orao ground attack aircraft.

He said the combat variant of the Boeing T-7 Red Hawk is currently the main option due to the good price/performance ratio.

However, we believe that the choice of T-7 is very unlikely as the Boeing is currently focused on the development of the main LIFT variant and the combat one is in an embryonic stage.

The market offers "ready to use" systems capable of meeting all the requirements of Serbia such as the Leonardo M-346FA Fighter Attack. The M-346FA offers multi-role functionality with a single platform at lower operating costs than a fourth generation aircraft as required by Serbia.

The M-346 would allow the Serbian Air Force to take a big leap forward into the modern era. The aircraft offers all of the advanced training capabilities of the core M-346 while also integrating latest generation sensors and equipment, allowing it to operate as an effective light attack aircraft. It can employ an extensive range of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry (including IR guided, radar and/or laser/GPS) and can be fitted with a gun pod, reconnaissance sensors and target designation pods and electronic warfare.

Serbia is also considering using the same new platform for air patrol missions in order to replace the old MiG-29 fighters. It is understandable as Serbia is a small country, similar to Austria, and does not necessarily need mach 2 aircraft to intercept a Renegade.  From this side, the M-346 proved to have great air combat capabilities during past exercises organized by the Italian Air Force and Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) where it played the Aggressor role.

The M-346FA can also be used to train Serbian Air Force fighter pilots. It benefits from all the advanced features of the weel-known M-346 advanced trainer jet. In this case the pilots will be able to carry out the operational conversion during the flight training school.

The trainer version of the M-346 is currently in service with the air forces of Italy, Singapore, Israel and Poland. The first M-346FA will be delivered to its international launch customer in 2021.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Leonardo