Since Airbus AFJT project has stalled, M346 may be only option for Spain

M346 Spain F5 replacement
Leonardo M-346 advanced trainer jets.

More than a year after the announcement of the AFJT (Airbus Advanced Jet Trainer) project by Airbus Defense and Space, it seems that no progress has been made in the development of the platform.

As confirmed by Infodefensa, the AFJT is not in the medium-term plans of the company which seems to focus mainly on the Eurofighter, A400M and C295 programs until 2030.

This stalemate could exclude Airbus from Spain's bid to replace the Spanish Air Force's F-5 advanced trainier jets which are nearing the end of their operational life.

Madrid has already started the modernization process of the SpAF trainer aircraft fleet with the purchase of 24 Pilatus PC-21s to cover the basic and intermediate phase of pilot training. This fleet renewal also includes the forthcoming introduction of a LIFT (Lead In Fighter Trainer) platform.

Although initially the main bidders for an advanced jet were Airbus and Leonardo, who offered the AFJT and the M-346 respectively, today it seems that the only option for Spain remains the Italian-made aircraft.

With the Spanish Air Force having to replace its F-5s within five/six years, it is unlikely that Airbus will be able to develop a new platform in such a short time, especially if it is not included in the priority projects. On the other hand, the M-346 is a proven aircraft that has been training fighter pilots in five countries for years.

As announced several times by Leonardo, the production of M-346s for SpAF will also involve Spanish companies, ensuring a good local income.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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