ROME, Italy. Global high-tech aerospace, defense, and security company Leonardo in Rome, Italy, conducted a test-fire for the attack variant of the Leonardo Aircraft M-346, the base model of the Leonardo DRS T-100 which is competing for the U.S. Air Force T-X program. The M-346 test-fired an air-to-air AIM-9L Sidewinder missile concluding safe separation tests.
The M-346 has already qualified ballistics and guided bombs, recce, and gun pod through previous tests.
The T-X program is targeted at provide the U.S. Air Force with a two-seat jet trainer for fast-jet training to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon, which is more than 50 years old.
The Fighter Attack (FA) variant, evolved from the M-346FT (Fighter Trainer), is the most suitable response to meet the widest range of customer operational needs. The aircraft is a multi-role lightweight fighter equipped with the multi-mode Grifo M346 radar, produced by the Airborne and Space Systems Division and specifically optimized for the FA variant.
The aircraft represents a highly effective and low-cost tactical solution for the modern battlefield and at the same time it keeps all the features of the M-346AJT (Advanced Jet Trainer), providing the air forces with maximum commonality, operational flexibility, and advanced training capabilities, officials say.
The aircraft features seven external hard-points for the employ of an extensive variety of air-to-air and air-ground weapons, laser/GPS-guided and non-guided, and several external loads, including gun, reconnaissance, or target designation pod.
It is possible to integrate a tactical data link, an extremely complete self-protection system, a helmet mounted display (HMD) system, voice command, an identification friend or foe (IFF) system, a secure communications system, an electronic warfare pod, and a radar cross-section reduction kit, officials say.