Alenia wins United Arab Emirates jet deal

Aug. 3, 2010 at 7:12 AM
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica company, will supply the United Arab Emirates air force with four more 10 MB-339A trainer aircraft in aerobatic configuration.

The agreement with the National Aerobatic Team covers the conversion and updates of six two-seater, single-engine MB-339A aircraft already in the United Arab Emirates inventory.

Alenia Aermacchi will remove the tip-tanks, modify the fuel system and install smoke generators capable of releasing trails in the white, red, green and black colors of the United Arab Emirates flag.

Work on the four new aircraft, including application of the team's black and gold livery, is under way at Alenia Aermacchi's Venegono factory, around 20 miles northwest of Milan.

The turbojet MB-339 was designed for advanced and lead-in fighter training. The latest production model, the CD, was recently ordered by Malaysia, an Alenia statement said. It is capable of supporting a complete syllabus, including advanced functions such as in-flight refueling, for pilots selected for operational units.

The Italian air force uses the MB-339 to train its jet pilots and to equip its Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Frecce Tricolori was formed in 1961 as the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale, the National Acrobatic Patrol, and flew F-86 Sabres. It team switched to Fiat G91T aircraft in 1964 and then to the Aermacchi MB339 in 1982.

The team finished training May 1 and is completing 40 airshows through to mid September when it will host other aerobatic teams from around the world at a special event to be staged at its home base at Rivolto.

Last November Alenia Aermacchi's third prototype of the M-346 Master advanced trainer reached the symbolic 1,000-flight milestone. All prototypes still are flying out of Alenia's airfield.

Mission tests of the M-346 Master have included long ferry-flights, air-to-air refueling and attack angles of more than 30 degrees. In December 2008 the first M-346 achieved the speed of 890 mph, becoming the fastest Italian-designed aircraft.

Alenia Aermacchi, founded in 1913 has built more than 7,000 aircraft, from piston-engine primary models to jet-powered basic trainers. Clients are in more than 40 countries.

The firm with its 1,850 workforce was acquired by Finmeccanica in 2003 and operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alenia Aeronautica.

In June 2007 the U. S. Army announced a $2.04 billion contract award to L-3 Communications Integrated Systems for their modernized and upgraded version of Alenia's C-27J Spartan to be the Joint Cargo Aircraft. This JCA program is a combined U.S. Air Force and Army effort to have an airframe for intra-theater airlifts.

The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a medium-size military transport aircraft and an advanced derivative of Alenia Aeronautica's G.222, called the C-27A Spartan in U.S. service. It has the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules.

The C-27J has been ordered by the armed forces of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Morocco and Romania.

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