Leonardo turned its eyes to the countries of Latin America in order to seek new customers for its defense products. One of the potential buyers is Brazil, which recently received a delegation from the Italian company, according to local press reports.
The manufacturer would have a special interest in offering the M-346FA light fighter jet to the Brazilian Air Force. To make an agreement feasible, the company hired a retired general to mediate negotiations with the country’s authorities.
The light fighter could be the ideal replacement for AMX operated by Brazil since 1989. Not surprisingly, the attack aircraft was developed by Leonardo’s predecessors, the manufacturers Aeritalia and Aermacchi, in partnership with Embraer.
The Brazilian Air Force has 55 units of the A-1, as it is designated, and which has been partially modernized. In addition to them, there are also the old F-5 Tiger II fighters that will start to be replaced by the Saab F-39 Gripen in 2021, but the total ordered is small – there are 36 planes between single and two-seater.
In addition to the M-346FA, a derivative of the advanced trainer M-346 developed in conjunction with Yakovlev, Leonardo would also have offered the M-345, another jet training aircraft that was designed based on the SIAI-Marchetti S-211.
Combat-capable training aircraft
Leonardo is interested in Latin America because most nations lack newer fighter planes. While they are unable to renew their fleets, the air forces end up using combat-capable training aircraft.
Argentina is one of the countries most in need of combat aircraft. The Air Force has retired its old Mirage III and Kfir fighters and in recent years has been operating the A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft in air defense.
Leornado has tried to offer the M-346, but the Argentine government would have already made clear its preference for the South Korean rival, the FA-50, from Korean Aerospace Industries.