At the "Fortunato Cesari" military airport in Galatina, in the afternoon of March 2, 2016, a Polish Air Force (PAF) pilot flew for the first time on the T-346A advanced trainer. The event is part of training curriculum that the PAF is following at the 61st Wing to train its aircrew on the T-346.
The central European country, which recently purchased the aircraft, has chosen Italy to qualify its pilots on the new "machine"; once qualified, they will then be able to train other instructors and students intended for tactical air units.
The Polish officer made his maiden flight accompanied by a Finmeccanica test pilots.
In fact, training activities on the T-346 started on November 30, and are divided into two phases: the first part is managed directly by Finmeccanica, both on the ground, inside the Ground Based Training System in which it carried out the "ground" part of the aircraft’s integrated training system, and in flight.
Next, PAF personnel will be trained by the instructors of the 212th Flight Group of the 61st Wing, the part of the flight school that aims to train instructors and students for Phase IV, the Lead-In Fighter Training Course.
This is another piece in the mosaic that will transform the 61st Wing by the internationalization of the Flight School and the introduction of the T-346A, a process that has now been completed.
In recent years the Galatina base, as well as having enhanced its ability to provide logistical and administrative support to foreign student pilots, also has been able to reinforce the perception by Italian military and civilian personnel the awareness that they constitute, at European and international level, a niche of excellence in the field of advanced training for military flight.
Currently, the nations represented in Galatina, in addition to Poland, are Argentina, Austria, France, Greece, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Singapore.