Portugal eyes to lease M-346 for training need

Portugal lease M346 pilot training
Leonardo M-346 advanced trainer jets.

Two years ago we posted about Portugal's interest in the Italian M-346 advanced trainer aircraft, here is a follow-up on that topic with new details that have emerged. 

Earlier in 2019, previous Chief of staff of the Portuguese Air Force Manuel Teixeira Rolo said they were looking to the M-346 to train future PoAF fighter pilots. Their plan was to have the Portuguese private military service provider SkyTech buy the aircraft and then sign a rental agreement with them.

At the time we had contacted SkyTech to get more details on the matter, but without ever receiving a reply. However, SkyTech has now updated its website by including some images of the M-346. This does not mean that there are ongoing negotiations, but it confirms the nation's interest in the Italian-made aircraft.

"The tailormade concepts give individual nations the opportunity to contract exactly what they need, while others might pool flight hours and share platforms to access a capability which would be inaccessible individually," SkyTech says.

PoAF currently has no trainer jets in its fleet, after the withdrawal of the Alpha Jet it began sending its student pilots to train overseas. However, officials say such training is very expensive and they would like to take it back home.

"With Air Forces facing increasing budget and operational constraints, SkyTech's innovative solutions and approaches provide access to various fleet units and services, reducing long term commitment and increasing operational effectiveness and training," the contractor says.

Written by Matteo Sanzani