Turkmenistan emerges as launch customer for Leonardo M-346FA light combat aircraft

Turkmenistan customer Leonardo M346FA C27J
Turkmenistan Air Force M-346FA light combat aircraft.

The President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov recently visited a Turkmenistan Air Force (TuAF) base in the nation's Western Balkans region to attend the presentation of the new military aircraft received by the service over the past few weeks, according to Turkmenistan's state-owned media Altyn Asyr (We have already talked about this topic in May 2020).

For the occasion, the TuAF showed the President the first pairs of Leonardo M-346FA light attack aircraft, C-27J Spartan "Next Generation" transport planes and Embraer Super Tucano turboprop aircraft.

During the visit, Berdimuhamedov did not just look at the new platforms, he also took a ride in the back seat of the M-346 "01", flying in formation with the "02" jet. As shown by the images, each of them carried four short-range air-to-air missiles and two external fuel tanks.

After many months of controversial news, today we can say that Turkmenistan is officially the launch customer of the combat variant of the Leonardo M-346, the M-346FA. Compared to the basic configuration, the M-346FA mainly boasts a modern multimode mechanical scan radar and a wide range of weapons. Ashgabat has been reported to have purchased four of them in 2019 along with two other M-346s in the training version.

Turkmenistan is also the first customer for the new C-27J NG (Next Generation), which features new avionics, improved operational efficiency and performance.

As far as we know, Turkmenistan's recent purchases included six M-346s, two C-27Js and six Super Tucanos. To date, the nation has received two of each type.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Altyn Asyr

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