Leonardo promotes sixth-gen fighter jet, M-346 in Asia-Pacific

The M346 advanced trainer jet was pitched for Future Japanese Trainer Program.

Leonardo M346 RFI Japan
Leonardo showcases a model of the M346 advanced trainer aircraft with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force insignia at DSEI in Tokyo.

Italian aerospace firm Leonardo concluded Friday its participation at DSEI in Tokyo, Japan, where it promoted its advanced technologies, products and systems for aerospace, defense and security. DSEI is a major defence sector event in the Asia-Pacific region.

A key project that has been highlighted is the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) which aims to to create a sixth-generation combat aircraft which will be at the heart of a future air defense. This project, which will see Italy, Japan and the UK working together across both government and industry, includes Leonardo as a strategic partner. GCAP will see Leonardo reinforcing its strategic presence in Japan and represents one of the most forward-looking international projects for the aerospace, defence and security industry.

Guglielmo Maviglia, Director Global Combat Air Programme, Leonardo, said: “GCAP is the standard bearer for the technological revolution that will characterise our sector over the next fifty years. It will protect and strengthen the technological and industrial sovereignty of the partner countries, ensure prosperity, safeguard distinctive skills, create employment and boost competitiveness. It will be a great challenge, because the aircraft will form the heart of a multi-domain system of systems, with the core platforms and other assets interconnected as part of an integrated whole. Elements of the system will range from unmanned platforms to advanced weapons, able to communicate across the five domains: land, sea, air, cyber and space”.

One of the key roles Leonardo is playing within the GCAP programme relates to the development of sixth generation tactical sensing. This domain is called ISANKE & ICS (Integrated Sensing and Non-Kinetic Effects & Integrated Communications System). Leonardo in the UK and Italy is developing ISANKE & ICS in partnership with Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric and Italy’s Elettronica. The new approach transitions from the traditional combat air model of individual airborne sensors to instead provide a fully integrated sensing, fusion and self-protection capability that draws on a spider’s web of sensing and effecting nodes across each platform.

Leonardo also showcased its advanced M-346 trainer aircraft which enables trainee pilots to develop the knowledge, skills and procedures to transition to modern combat aircraft. The company responded with the M-346 to the RFI of the Ministry of Defense of Japan to seek a replacement for the Kawasaki T-4 trainers. The M-346 is at the centre of the new International Flight Training School (IFTS), created by Leonardo and the Italian Air Force and chosen by the Japan Air Self-Defence Force to train its student pilots. An internationally recognised centre of excellence, the IFTS has also been chosen by the air forces of Qatar, Germany and Singapore - among others - and selected as the flagship campus for the NATO Flying Training in Europe (NFTE) project. 

The M-346 platform is a fully integrated advanced training system. It includes a complete system of simulators and ground training devices, as well as a fully operational Live, Virtual, and Constructive (LVC) environment developed in-house by Leonardo. The M-346 prepares future combat air pilots to face the most complex and demanding operational scenarios they will face while operating current and future generation fighters.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Image: Leonardo

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