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Aermacchi MB.339

The Aermacchi MB.339 single-engine training and light attack aircraft is a much-enhanced derivative of MB.326, mating the wing of the MB.326K variant with a new forward fuselage section for improved forward visibility. The Aermacchi MB-339 jet trainer is of conventional configuration, and shares much of the MB-326's airframe. It has a low, un-swept wing with tip tanks and jet intakes in the roots, tricycle undercarriage, and accommodation for the student and instructor in tandem. The MB-339 is a fully aerobatic, tandem two-seat, single-turbojet advanced trainer that covers the entire advanced training syllabus, up to and including Lead-In Fighter Training. Thanks to its maneuverability, the good operational flexibility, and the possibility to load a wide range of weapons in its hard points under the wings, the MB 339 has also been developed to perform light attack and close support duties. The latest MB-339CD version is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics.

The Italian Air Force solicited Aermacchi proposals in 1973 for a follow-on to the MB.326 trainer aircraft, the standard advanced jet trainer of the 1960s. The Aermacchi MB.339 had its origin in a study contract issued by the Italian Air Force for a second-generation trainer and light attack aircraft to succeed the MB.326 and the Fiat G.91T, for service in the 1980s. The company undertook nine separate design studies, each with a different powerplant option, and the Viper-powered version was selected. Aermacchi settled on the familiar Viper turbojet for its performance, ease of maintenance and lower acquisition cost, despite higher fuel consumption.

The MB.339 design was selected in 1975. The first prototype flew on 12 August 1976 and deliveries to the Italian Air Force commenced in 1979. The uprated MB.339B was introduced in 1985, incorporating enhanced light attack capability. The dual-purpose MB.339C, with an updated nav/attack system, first flew in December 1985. The MB.339 Veltro 2 single-seat, dedicated attack variant flew in 1980, featuring increased maximum gross weight and two DEFA 30mm cannon. Aermacchi laid down the initial batch of 10 MB.339Cs in 1987, in anticipation of future orders. The Italian government approved the purchase of this batch as well as another 10. All 20 are in service with the Italian Air Force. Production of a third batch of 18 was begun in 1990 to fill the latest order from the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

A redesigned forward fuselage provided the instructor in the rear seat with better all-round visibility, and the avionics suite was completely upgraded. The pressurized cockpit is fitted with jettisonable canopy and Martin Baker ejection seats. The MB-339 aircraft was the only AJT in the world capable of in-flight refuelling.

The jet rose to world-wide prominence as the aircraft used by the Frecce Tricolori aerobatic display team. In 1982 the MB-339 was choosed as replacement of the glorious G-91 PAN for the “Frecce Tricolori’s” aerobatic team. The team flies the Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN, a dedicated variant, capable of 898 km/h at sea level, with nine aircraft and a solo (the highest number of aircraft of any aerobatic team in the world). The team official name is: 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN) “Frecce Tricolori”. Until the 1980s the MB-339 was the only jet aircraft in the world capable of performing the Lomcovàk, a maneuver which only propeller aircraft were able to manage owing to the gyroscopic forces involved.

The base MB-339A accounted for almost all sales and 101 were delivered to the Italian Air Force (some as MB-339PANS fitted with smoke generators for the Italian Air Force's Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team). The MB-339C meanwhile is optimised for lead-in fighter and light attack duties with advanced nav and attack systems, ability to carry missiles, a more powerful engine, lengthened nose and larger tip tanks. So far New Zealand was the only C customer. The single seat MB-339K Veltro 2 was built in prototype form only.

Customers include Argentina, Dubai, Eritrea, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Peru, and United Arab Emirates. The MB-339 first saw combat action in May 1982, during the Falklands War, carrying out ground attack missions against Royal Navy amphibious troops. Taking off from Port Stanley airport, it also attacked and partially destroyed HMS Argonaut. In 1980, the Argentinean Naval Aviation had acquired 10 as 6 of them would be deployed on the Falklands. In 1998, the Eritrean Air Force MB-339s conducted bombing missions against targets in Ethiopia.

This aircraft has been superseded by the M346 which is a much improved version of a Russian design purchased by AerMacchi S.p.A and extensively redesigned at their facility in Venegono Superiore near Varese, Italy.

The MB.339 was one of the serious competitors for the US Air Force/US Navy Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS). Aermacchi, Lockheed, and GM-Hughes combined in 1989 to offer an improved MB.339 powered by the derated (to 4,000 lbst) RB582-01 variant of the Rolls-Royce Viper turbojet. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Lockheed would act as the prime contractor and system integrator, and assemble the aircraft at its Marietta (Georgia) facility. Hughes would contribute its computerized training system experience. In 1995, the Beech/Pilatus PC-9 Mk II was selected as the JPATS finalist.

Through 2009, approximately 230 aircraft were produced. Price Range is estimated at $7 million in 2003 US dollars.

In July, 2012 Draken International was selected as the winning bidder for nine (9) Aermacchi MB-339 tactical jet trainer aircraft from the New Zealand government. The MB-339 aircraft are very low time and have been exceptionally well maintained. This acquisition complements the company's already expansive and highly capable fleet of fighter aircraft, with capabilities in all mission sets including air to air and air to ground. These nine Aermacchi MB-339s feature dual, front and rear seat Heads-Up Displays (HUD), Multi-Function Displays (MFD), the NATAO Standard 1553 data bus and an F-16-style Hands On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) system. The MB-339 is specifically designed to excel in the Close Air Support (CAS), Forward Air Controller – Airborne (FAC-A) and training Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) roles. The aircraft are equipped with seven weapon station hardpoints to provide the capability to handle air-to-ground training munitions and integration with the latest generation of targeting pods.

Draken International CEO Jared Isaacman states, Draken is committed to building the most capable fleet of aircraft for our contract air services clients and this acquisition helps further our already robust capabilities. We are also very pleased to continue our long-standing positive relationship with the New Zealand government with this transaction. This acquisition also includes an extensive inventory of spare parts, spare engines, avionics, nav/attack systems, publications and life support systems. Also included is a flight simulator for pilot familiarization and procedural training. Draken expected to have its team onsite preparing disassembly by the end of May 2012 and to have the first aircraft fully operational in the 4th quarter 2012.

MB-339A Metric U.S.
length 10.97m (36ft Oin),
height 3.99m (13ft 1in).
Wing span10.86m (35ft 8in)
Wing area 19.3m2 (207.7sq ft)
MB-339C - Same except
length 11.24m (36ft 11 in).
Length overall 11.24 m 36.87 ft
Height 3.86 m 12.66 ft
Wingspan over tip tanks 11.22 m 36.8 ft
Weight Empty, equipped 3,414 kg 7,545 lb
Max gross weight, with external stores 6,350 kg 14,000 lb
Max speed, sea level 920 kmph 495 kt
Max climb at sea level 2,100 mpm 6,890 fpm
Service ceiling 14,020 m 46,000 ft
Max speed at 30,000ft 817km/h (441 kt),
at sea level 898km/h (485kt)
Max initial rate of climb 6595ft/min.
Climb to 30,000ft 7min 6sec.
Service ceiling 48,000ft.
Ferry range with drop tanks 2110km (1140nm)
range 1760km (950nm)
Combat radius with four Mk 82 bombs and two drop tanks (hi-lo-hi) 393km (212nm).
Max speed 902km/h (487kt)
Max initial rate of climb 7085ft/min
Climb to 30,000ft 6min 40sec
Service ceiling 46,700ft.
Ferry range with two drop tanks 2035km (1100nm).
Combat radius with four Mk 82 bombs (hi-lo-hi) 500km (270nm).
MB-339A - Empty equipped 3125kg (6889lb),
max takeoff 5895kg (13,000lb).
MB-339C - Empty equipped 3310kg (7297lb),
max takeoff 6350kg (14,000lb).
MB.339A/CD (1) Rolls-Royce Viper Mk 632-43 turbojet engine rated 17.8 kN (4,000 lbst).
MB.339C/FD (1) Rolls-Royce Viper Mk 680 turbojet engine rated 19.57 kN (4,400 lbst)
MB.339 T-Bird II (1) Viper Mk 582 turbojet rated 17.79 kN (4,000 lbst).
MB.339C can carry air-to-air IR AIM-9L and Matra Magic, air-to-surface AGM-65 Maverick, or Marte Mk II sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. Marte II is now qualified on the modified MB.339AM.
MB.339K carries two DEFA 30mm cannons; six underwing hardpoints accommodate up to 1,815 kilograms (4,000 lb) of external stores, including 50mm, 68mm, 81mm, 100mm, 2.75-inch, and 5-inch rockets; 500-pound bombs; and 120mm close air support bombs.
Aermacchi considering provisions for two additional, pod-mounted 30mm cannon and AIM-9 missile installation.
Crew MB.339CD/FD are two-seaters.

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Page last modified: 24-06-2016 11:39:07 ZULU