The development and modernization of the 61st Wing, the Air Force's international flight school, continues at Galatina military airport.
After the T-346, which has completely revolutionized the characteristics of advanced flight training since 2014, it will soon be the turn of the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer), another totally Italian-made aircraft intended to gradually replace the fleet of T-339 (in versions A and CD). These aircraft entered service in 1982 and are currently used by the 61st Wing in Phases 2 and 3 of the military pilot training syllabus.
The trainer, which in military terminology will be designated T-345 (T for Trainer), will allow the improvement of the quality of training at lower cost -- hence the name High Efficiency Trainer. In addition, the student pilots will use the same technology already developed for the T-346, allowing a more dynamic and efficient transition to Phase 4 for the cadets who will be trained as fighter lines.
Today, the Salento air base, which for years ago been a showcase for the promotion of the T-346 - the integrated system used in phase IV of the training process - represents an excellent example of the synergy between systems with very high technology of national production and the over seventy-year experience of the Air Force in the field of flight training: a concrete example of Italian excellence, and a flagship for the entire country.
Thanks to the innovative technologies used and the reduction of the operating costs associated with its use, the service introduction of the T-345 will allow the Galatina flight school to consolidate its leadership position in the basic training segment as well.
Finally, it should be noted that the T-345 will also replace the MB-339 used by the Air Force’s aerobatic team, Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN), better known as the Frecce Tricolori, so that our students will be flying on the same aircraft as the national acrobatic team.
The 61st Wing, which is subordinated to the Air Force’s Training Command co-located at Bari with the 3rd Air Region Command, is tasked with providing flight training on jet aircraft:
-- Phase 2: Primary Pilot Training, common to all military pilot students, aimed at identifying the lines on which they will fly (fighter, RPA remote pilot, helicopters, transport), which is currently carried out on the T339A aircraft;
-- Phase 3: Specialized Pilot Training, exclusively for student pilots selected for the "Fighter" and "RPA" lines, concludes with the achievement of the Military Pilot License (‘Turreted Eagle’). The T-339C is used for this phase;
-- Phase 4: Lead In Fighter Training (LIFT), preparatory for the subsequent transition to combat aircraft, which is carried out on the T346A.
Currently the 61st Wing, which is also home to the International Flight Training School (IFTS), hosts flight crews from eight foreign countries including the United States, Spain and France.