Pilots from Canada, UK complete LIFT phase in Italy ahead of schedule thanks to world-class training and systems

Canada's student pilot in the cockpit of an ITAF M-346 advanced trainer aircraft.

Military pilots from Canada and the United Kingdom recently completed advanced training at the International Flight Training School (IFTS) in Decimomannu, Sardinia, Italy.

The pilots, who started the course in July 2023, completed the LIFT (Lead In to Fighter Training) phase one month ahead of schedule. This result was possible thanks to the efficiency and effectiveness of the teaching methodologies and the advanced technologies in use at the IFTS.

During the course, the participants faced demanding challenges and tasks and were able to take full advantage of the resources made available by the IFTS, honing their skills and acquiring greater confidence in the use of advanced avionics. This was possible thanks to the Integrated Training System (ITS) T-346 which is a platform capable of integrating simulators and learning systems with the aircraft, making training activities more effective and less expensive.

The choice of foreign air forces to train their pilots in Italy demonstrates an Italian record in the international flight training sector. The school currently hosts pilots from Saudi Arabia, Austria, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, Qatar and Singapore.

"The International Flight Training School (IFTS) is an Italian excellence of international value, which brings together the consolidated know-how of the Italian Air Force in flight training and the excellence of Leonardo in the sector of integrated systems for the training of military pilots . The IFTS represents a point of reference for the advanced training of military pilots from air forces around the world who fly technologically advanced fighters, such as the Eurofighter or F-35 aircraft and is a virtuous example of national institutional and industrial synergy capable of satisfy the growing demand of the Italian Air Force and partner countries for the training of their pilots," said Col. Vito Conserva, Commander of the 61st Wing, home of the IFTS.

The effective training that pilots from Canada and the United Kingdom have received at the IFTS could lay the foundations for major industrial agreements as both nations soon evaluate the introduction of new trainer aircraft. Canada retired its CT-155 Hawk jets at the beginning of March and currently relies on NATO partners to train its military pilots. However, it is an interim solution as the Canadian Air Force's plan is to reactivate its training squadron within a few years. The RAF is also sending a large number of its student pilots to train abroad due to the low availability of Hawk T2 jets. According to local sources, the Hawk fleet is suffering from serious engine problems.

The Leonardo M-346 could represent an excellent solution for both nations. It is currently recognized as the most advanced military pilot training system in the world capable of guaranteeing the highest standard of training for future fighter pilots. The M-346 is currently the only system capable of fully using the innovative Leonardo Live Virtual Constructive technology which allows pilots in flight (live) to operate with pilots in the simulator (virtual) and entities created by simulation systems (constructive). To date, Leonardo has sold 126 M-346 aircraft to 9 customers/users including the Italian Air Force; Republic of Singapore Air Force; Israeli Air Force; Polish Air Force; Hellenic Air Force; Royal Qatari Air Force. The global M-346 fleet has logged over 120,000 flight hours.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: Italian Air Force

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