Tag Archives: Leonardo

First flight

The prototype of the new Aermacchi M-345HET (High Efficiency Trainer) two-seat basic jet trainer has successfully completed its first flight from Venegono Superiore airfield (Varese, Italy) on December 29, 2016. The aircraft was flown by Quirino Bucci and Giacomo Iannelli from Leonardo Aircraft Division.

The M-345 is the latest-generation basic jet trainer from Leonardo
The M-345 is the latest-generation basic jet trainer from Leonardo

Quirino Bucci, Project Test Pilot Trainers of Leonardo Aircraft Division, expressed great satisfaction at the end of the 30-minute flight and said: «The aircraft conducted itself perfectly, meeting the expectations of the design parameters while showing excellent performance. The engine in particular demonstrated a great capacity to react to regime changes, which is a fundamental characteristic for a basic training aircraft».

The M-345 is the latest-generation aircraft from Leonardo for military pilot training and provides global Air Forces with an economically affordable and effective solution, thanks to a significant reduction in acquisition and life-cycle costs compared to those of powerful turboprop trainer aircraft. The test campaign will be completed within 2017. The next tests will check the advanced avionics systems, the engine and the flight envelope expansion, including altitude, speed and maneuverability.

Thanks to its modern avionics, considerable external load-carrying capability on the wing pylons and performance, the new Aermacchi M-345HET is also suited for operational roles. Life cycle cost reduction is driven by long fatigue and two-level maintenance, the latter made possible by replacing the expensive general overhauls with the airframe and systems Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS). The avionics, based on the latest M-346’s experience, matches the standards of the latest combat jets, including HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) controls, Head Up Display (HUD), Multi-Function Displays (MFD), the real-time data link. The aircraft is powered by a Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan engine with thrust of 3,450 lbs/1,540 kg. The operating efficiency is ensured by pressure refueling systems and on-board oxygen generation (OBOGS), both of which reduce ground support crews and ground operation times.

The aircraft met the expectations while showing excellent performance
The aircraft met the expectations while showing excellent performance

 

M-345HET

DIMENSION
Wing span 27.78 feet/8.47 m
Length 32.32 feet/9.85 m
Height 12.27 feet/3.74 m
Wing area 135.6 feet2/12.6 m2
WEIGHTS
Take-off (Trainer) 7,275 lbs/3,300 kg
Take-off (Maximum) 9,920 lbs/4,500 kg
POWER PLANT
Engine, turbofan Williams FJ44-4M-34
Maximum Thrust 3,400 lbs/1,540 kg
Internal fuel 1,545 lbs/700 kg
PERFORMANCE (CLEAN, ISA)
Max level speed (SL/20,000 feet/6,096 m) 380/420 KTAS/437/483 mph/704/778 km/h
Limited Speed 400 KEAS/460 mph/741 km/h (0.8 MN)
Stall speed (landing, 20% fuel) 88 KCSA/101 mph/163 km/h
Rate of climb (SL) 5,200 feet/min/1,585 m/min
Service ceiling 40,000 feet/12,192 m
Take-off/Landing ground run (SL) 1,720 feet/520 m
Ferry range 760 NM/876 miles/1,410 km
Ferry range (clean/2 ext. thanks – 10% reserve) 1,000 NM/1,150 miles/1,850 km

 

Merlin maiden flight

Just in time for the Corps’ 352nd birthday, the Royal Marines new flying steed has taken to the skies for the first time. The Merlin Mk4 – much better adapted to operations at sea than the Mk3 it is replacing – will be the mainstay of Commando Helicopter Force for the next decade and beyond.

The Leonardo Merlin Mk4 helicopter, modified as an assault transport for Britain’s Royal Marines, made its maiden flight last week. A total of 25 Merlin Mk3s will be modified to this new standard, and all should be delivered by late 2020 (RN photo)
The Leonardo Merlin Mk4 helicopter, modified as an assault transport for Britain’s Royal Marines, made its maiden flight last week. A total of 25 Merlin Mk3s will be modified to this new standard, and all should be delivered by late 2020 (RN photo)

You’ve never seen a Merlin like this before. This is the Royal Marines’ flying steed of tomorrow, the fourth incarnation of a battle-proven helicopter – and the one best suited to both commando operations and flying at sea.

The very first Merlin Mk4 took to Somerset skies earlier this week after technicians and engineers at Leonardo – previously Agusta-Westland – in Yeovil completed turning a battlefield Merlin Mk3 into a battlefield Merlin Mk4.

The difference? Well, for a start it’s maritime grey not battlefield green (although it’s easily distinguishable from its submarine-hunting Merlin Mk2 sisters by the lack of a radar dome under the cockpit).

Less obvious to the eye is a folding main rotor head and folding tail which make it much more suited to operating from Royal Navy (RN) carriers and assault ships at sea.

In addition, inside the crew of four have access to a vastly-improved avionics suite.

The first Merlin Mk4 is likely to be ready for front-line operations by late 2017, with the entire fleet of 25 converted by the end of 2020.

At present the two troop-carrying squadrons of Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), based at Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) Yeovilton – 845 and 846 NAS – operate the Merlin Mk3 and Merlin Mk3i (the latter has undergone enhancements and improvements which plug the gap between Nos.3 and 4).

Watching the Merlin Mk4’s maiden flight was Colonel Lenny Brown, the Royal Marine in charge of CHF – who can’t wait for his men and women to get their hands on the upgraded helicopter.

«What a fantastic achievement for Leonardo, the Merlin project team and all those involved at Commando Helicopter Force», he said.

«This is truly a leap forward in CHF’s capability to support 3 Commando Brigade at the speed and range required on the modern battlefield, whether operating embarked in Royal Navy warships or on land».