By Matteo Sanzani
The first two M-346 advanced trainer aircraft (tail codes 250 and 251) landed Thursday at Kalamata Air Base, Greece, marking the beginning of a new era for the Hellenic Air Force. Thanks to these new aircraft, Greece will be able to provide state-of-the-art training to future F-16V, Rafale and F-35 pilots.
As shown in a Hellenic Air Force video, the M-346s arrived together with two T-2 Buckeye jets that they will progressively replace at the HAF International Flight Training Center.
The Greek Defense Ministry will hold an official handover ceremony on May 16.
The two M-346s were produced at the Leonardo plant in Venegono Superiore, Northern Italy, as part of a batch of 5 aircraft destined for Greece. The first of these flew in late January with a primer color and was then spotted in the final livery in early April. During a first Functional Check Flight the first Greek M-346 also visited the Kalamata Air Base.
Elbit Systems announced on April 18, 2021 that it has been awarded a contract worth approximately US$1.65 billion (approximately €1.375 billion) for the establishment and operation of the International Flight Training Center of the Hellenic Air Force, as part of an agreement between the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Hellenic Ministry of National Defense.
The contract calls for Elbit Systems to supply new M-346 trainer aircraft and maintain the entire training fleet, consisting of dozens of M-346 and T-6 trainer aircraft for a period of approximately 20 years. In addition, the Company is to provide its latest advanced Embedded Virtual Avionics (EVA) onboard the training aircraft, networked flight simulators and an array of Ground-Based Training Stations (GBTS) as well as a command and control systems to enable efficient management of the flight training operation.