– Leonardo and Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 1 SA (WZL1), part of the Polish Defense Group PGZ, concluded an agreement for the long-term support of the Polish Air Force M-346 “Bielik” fleet, thus implementing the cooperation already in place.
Thanks to Leonardo's know-how and experience in supporting its customers globally and thanks to WZL1's long experience in operational support of aircraft fleets and systems operated by the Polish Armed Forces – in addition to the extensive technical and logistic facilities WZL1 boasts close to the operating base of the training system – this agreement for the support of the Polish M-346 fleet will allow to further increase the level of operational efficiency of the aircraft so as to meet the growing needs of the Polish Air Force in training of own fighter pilots.
As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Leonardo will be responsible for engineering support services within its role within the operational support system and supply chain management. WZL1 will operate as prime contractor, coordinating the entire process and supporting the areas in which Leonardo is not directly involved. WZL1 is also responsible for the direct interface with the end user.
Based on further contractual agreements, Leonardo collaborates with WZL1 also in training and maintenance and repair skills training at Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze No. 1 SA to support the operation of M-346 aircraft and training system.
The experience developed in supporting the entire fleet of M-346 aircraft aims to guarantee the entire Logistics Support System of the "Bielik" (the name given to the M-346 in Poland) high process efficiency and support technical and logistic to the training system. This also benefiting from Leonardo's predictive maintenance approach and from the technical and commercial collaboration with WZL1, an expert service provider according to international aeronautical standards.
Dario Marfè, SVP Commercial and Customer Services of Leonardo, Aircraft Division, said: “With over 100.000 hours flown, the M-346 has consolidated its position as the reference advanced jet trainer in the world, for the training of military pilots of today and tomorrow. Thanks to its technological level, the M-346 will continue in the coming decades to represent the best way to develop the skills of pilots destined for front-line aircraft. This agreement strengthens Leonardo's partnership with WZL1, creating new opportunities to transfer other activities to Poland, in line with the consolidated and flexible logistic support model adopted by Leonardo in many countries and which provides for the transfer of capabilities to local defense industries ”.
The Polish Air Force acquired the M-2014 in February 346 as a successor to the legendary TS-11 Iskra trainer. Later, in November 2018, during a ceremony held at the 4th Air Training Wing of the Polish Air Force in Dęblin, the name "Bielik" was officially attributed to the M-346s in service in Poland. Since its introduction into the Polish Air Force fleet, the M-346 has been assigned to the 41st Training Air Base in Dęblin. The current fleet of 16 aircraft is the result of two further batches ordered by Poland after the initial selection. The Polish training system based on the M-346 "Bielik" has also been certified by the US Air Force for the training of fourth and fifth generation fighter pilots: an important milestone that has allowed Poland to train many of its students at home and no longer abroad.
Leonardo has contracted to date over 100 M-346 specimens to top-level international military air forces such as Italy, Israel, Poland, Singapore, Qatar and Greece. The aircraft is also the backbone of the International Flight Training School (IFTS), a collaboration between Leonardo and the Italian Air Force that has already been chosen by Japan, Germany, Qatar and Singapore.