Qatar acquired M-346s with integrated tactical training system

DOHA, ($1 = 3.64 Qatari riyals) — The months-planned purchase of M-346 training aircraft from Qatar has finally taken place. Leonardo, its manufacturer, agreed to deliver half a dozen of these aircraft to the Qatari Air Force, learned, citing InfoDefense. Various Italian media reported last November that Qatari authorities were planning the purchase of an undisclosed number of devices, coinciding with a visit by Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Gerini to Doha, the Middle Eastern capital.

Photo credit: FlightGlobal

It is now the international media Defense News which has published the final purchase, citing a spokesperson for the transalpine company as a source. This operation also describes the agreement already implemented for the training of Qatari pilots in Italy, within the framework of the international school opened by Leonardo and the Italian Air Force, in which Germany and more recently the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces [JASDF].

The M-346, as the model is called in the Italian armed forces, which also acquired Poland, Israel and Singapore, is ready to train future crew members on such advanced fighter aircraft as the European Eurofighter, the Gripen and the Rafale, and the American F-16, F-18, F-15, F-35 and F-22.

M-346 Twin-Engine Transonic Advanced Jet Trainer

For its creators, Italian development is “the most modern air simulator available today and the only one in the world designed to train pilots who will fly next-generation high-performance military aircraft.” To do this, it is equipped, among other achievements, with a digital avionics system fully reproducing the one used in modern fighter planes.

The M-346 is based on the Russian Yak-130 design, as its genesis is part of a joint initiative between Alenia Aermacchi [part of Leonardo] and Yakolev. The plane has a length of 11.5 meters and a wingspan of 9.7 meters and can fly at transonic speeds [between 980 and 1230 kilometers per hour] without the need for post-combustion. Its operating ceiling is 45,000 feet [13,700 meters above sea level].

A key feature of the M-346 is the Integrated Tactical Training System [ETTS]. The ETTS can emulate various equipment, such as radars, guidance capsules, weapons and electronic warfare systems; in addition, the ETTS can interact with various munitions and other on-board equipment.

The system can operate in stand-alone mode, in which simulated data and scenario information, with threats and targets, is loaded before take-off, or in a network in which data is received and operated in real time by ground monitoring stations via the aircraft’s data link.

ETTS can generate realistic computer-generated forces [friends and enemies]. For post-mission evaluation and analysis purposes, accumulated data, such as video from the optional helmet-mounted display, can be retrieved and viewed.

In addition to Italy, Israel, Poland, Singapore and Italy, months ago it turned out that another country also acquired the Italian model, and that could be Qatar, although some experts think it’s Turkmenistan. On the other hand, two years ago it became known that Azerbaijan was proceeding with the purchase of several units. Spain also believes that the M-346 is the best option to replace the Spanish Air Force’s older F-5 fighters.


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