TYPE: Basic jet trainer/light attack jet.
PROGRAMME: MB-339A selected by Italian Air Force on 11 February 1975 in preference to MB-338; one static test airframe and two prototypes; first flights (MM588) 12 August 1976 and (MM589) 20 May 1977; first flight of production MB-339A (MM54438) 20 July 1978; initial two deliveries (MM54439 and 54440) on 8 August 1979; first batch of 51 included three used as radio calibration aircraft at Pratica di Mare and 14 PANs for Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team.
MB-339C developed as an uprated MB-339 with a Viper 680 power plant; experimental installation in I-MABX, first flown on 9 June 1983; initial MB-339C first flight (I-AMDA) 17 December 1985; production aircraft (I-TRON) 8 November 1989. The 200th MB-339 (a 339CE for Eritrea) was delivered on 14 April 1997. MB-339s had flown some 500,000 hours by late 2002.
CURRENT VERSIONS: MB-339A: Initial military basic/advanced trainer. Final deliveries (small attrition replacement batch for Italy) in 1995. Main operator is 61° Stormo Scuola Volo Basico Iniziale su Aviogetti at Lecce-Galatina.
Lit110 billion MLU initiated in mid-1999 includes structural modifications on some 70 aircraft to extend service lives from 10,000 to 15,000 hours (from 20 to 30 years). Features of MLU include Litton Italia LISA-FG GPS/INS: new integrated air gata transducer; provision for AN/ARC-150(V) Have Quick secure radio; Elmer crashrecorder: ELT; instrument panel modifications; radio switches on control column; formation flying lights; higher-capacity batteries connected in parallel with starter/generator; provision for target towing; anti-skid brakes; nosewheel splash-guard; repositioned IFF antenna; airborne stress gauge; and improved access, by means of additional removable panels, to wing/fuselage joint for inspection and engine maintenance. Depot maintenance interval will increase to 1,500 hours after MLU. Prototype (CSX54453) first flown 20 December 1999; 'production' will take between eight and 10 years for fleet; first pair (MM54497 and 54505) redelivered in 2002.
MB-339PAN (Pattuglia Aerobatica Nazionale: national aerobatic team): Special version of MB-339A for Italian Air Force; smoke generator added; wingtip tanks deleted. Official debut 27 April 1982. Total 25 built as, or converted to PAN. Included in MLU.
MB-339AM: Special anti-ship version armed with AOSM Marte Mk 2A missile; avionics, equivalent to MB-339C, include new inertial navigator, Doppler radar, navigation and attack computers, head-up display and multifunction display. Prototype converted from MB-339A; qualification completed January 1995. No known orders.
MB-339B: Powered by 19.57 kN (4,400 lb st) Viper Mk 680-43; larger tip tanks. Prototype (demonstrator I-GROW) modified in 1993 with two LCD EFIS displays and air-to-air refuelling (AAR).
MB-339RM (Radiomisure: radio calibration): Three produced for Italian Air Force, 1981; withdrawn and transferred to training as MB-339As.
T-Bird II: One demonstrator modified for US JPATS competition; delivered to Lockheed factory at Marietta, Georgia, on 20 May 1992. Power plant, one Rolls-Royce Viper 680-582 of 19.79 kN (4,000 lb st) with noise reduction kit. Rejected in favour of Pilatus PC-9 (Raytheon T-6A Texan II), June 1995. Continues in use as chase aircraft.
MB-339CB: For Royal New Zealand Air Force; Viper 680 engine. Served with 14 Squadron at Ohakea in training and light attack roles until 13 December 2001, when unit disbanded and aircraft offered for sale.
MB-339CD (C Digital): Developed for Italian Air Force advanced/fighter lead-in training. Rolled out 12 April 1996; first flight (conversion of MB-339A MM54544; renumbered MMX606) 24 April 1996. Rolls-Royce Viper Mk 632-43 engine; removable in-flight refuelling probe (first phase of tanker trials completed March 1996 by development MB-339 I-GROW); new avionic architecture based on a single central mission computer, MIL-STD-1553B digital databus, one ring laser gyro platform with embedded GPS, EFIS cockpits with HUD in each, three identical liquid crystal colour MFDs and HOTAS controls. Other details generally as MB-339CB, but (compared with MB-339A) nose lengthened; elevators modified to give handling characteristics closer to the fast jets to which students will progress; some structural parts and systems modified; and pilots' escape system updated. Achieved full operational capability with IAF in October 1998 after 148 sorties by prototype.
Contract signed in August 2001 for further 15 MB-339CDs, designated MB-339CD2; prototype was conversion of MMX606, first flown in new guise on 6 November 2001; new features of Lot 2 include 8.33 kHz radios, onboard simulation of electronic warfare (RWR, MAWS, chaff/flare), IFF Mode S, crash data recorder, ELT and underwater acoustic beacon, multifunctional information distribution system, full NVG capability, digital map system and autonomous air combat manoeuvring instrumentation. All new features being retrofitted to first batch. Initial aircarft of Lot 2 (MM55077) first flew 24 May 2002 and delivered September 2002. Clearance issued in July 2002 for carriage of autonomous air combat manoeuvring instrumentation (AACMI) pod on port outer wing pylon.
Detailed description applies to the above version.
MB-339CE: Variant of MB-339CD; Viper 680 engine. Six ordered by Eritrea on 7 November 1995; deliveries began April 1997.
MB-339FD (Full Digital): Export equivalent of CD, with Viper 680 engine. Offered to Australia in 1994; unsuccessful in competition against the BAE Systems' Hawk. Also offered to Brazil and South Africa as Xavante/Impala replacement. Purchase by Venezuela of an initial eight announced 7 July 1998, but decision subsequently reversed and competition reopened; no further announcement by early 2003.
CUSTOMERS: Initial fifteen CDs ordered by Italian Air Force; delivery of two aircraft on 18 December 1996, followed by further 10 in 1997 and three in 1998 (last in November); first four to Reparto Sperimentale Volo at Pratica di Mare for trials before issue to 61° Stormo; some assigned to base flight at Gioia del Colle and Novara-Cameri for continuation training, including in-flight refuelling. Further 15 supplied in 2002-2003, comprising seven by December 2002 (initially on CB1 software configuration) and balance by December 2003.
DESIGN FEATURES: Conventional subsonic jet trainer with tandem, stepped cockpits and low, moderately sweptback wing. Designed to MIL-A-8860A for 10,000 hours service life. Intended maintenance requirement of 5.95 mmh/fh; scheduled maintenance at 150 and 300 hour intervals; IRAN at 1,500 hours (extendable to 1,800 hours).
Wing section NACA 64A-114 (mod) at centreline 64A-212 (mod) at tip; quarter-chord sweepback 8° 29'.
FLYING CONTROLS: Conventional. Power-assisted ailerons with artificial feel, plus servo tabs to assist emergency manual reversion; elevators and rudder actuated manually by pushrods; electrically controlled servo tab for control assistance and trimming on elevator; hydraulically actuated single-slotted flaps; two ventral strakes under tail; electrohydraulically actuated airbrake panel under forward fuselage; wing fence ahead of aileron inboard edge; both pilots have HUD; rear pilot elevated sufficiently to be able to aim guns and air-to-surface weapons and fly visual approaches (see nav/attack system under Avionics heading).
STRUCTURE: All-metal; stressed skin wings with main and auxiliary spars and spanwise stringers; bolted to fuselage; tip tanks permanently attached; rear fuselage detachable by four bolts for engine access.
LANDING GEAR: Hydraulically retractable tricycle type with oleo-pneumatic shock-absorber, suitable for operation from semi-prepared runways. Hydraulically steerable nosewheel retracts forward; main units retract outward into wings. Low-pressure mainwheel tubeless tyres size 545x175-10 (14 ply); nosewheel tubeless tyre size 380x150-4 (6 ply). Emergency extension system. Hydraulic disc brakes with anti-skid system. Minimum ground turning radius 8.63 m (28 ft 3¾ in).
POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce Viper Mk 680-43 turbojet, installed rating 19.31 kN (4,340 lb st). MB-339Cs for Italy retain the MB-339A's 17.79 kN (4,000 lb st) Viper Mk 632-43. Fuel in two-cell rubber fuselage tank, capacity 781 litres (206 US gallons; 172 Imp gallons), and two wingtip tanks with combined of 1,000 litres (264 US gallons; 220 Imp gallons). Total internal usable capacity 1,781 litres (470.5 US gallons; 392 Imp gallons). Self-sealing tanks optional. Single-point pressure refuelling point in port side of fuselage, below wing trailing-edge. Gravity refuelling points on top of fuselage and each tip tank. Provision for two drop tanks, each of 325 litres (86.0 US gallons; 71.5 Imp gallons) usable capacity, on centre underwing stations. Optional refuelling probe on starboard side of cockpits.
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two in tandem, on Martin-Baker Mk 10LK zero/zero ejection seats in pressurised cockpit. Independent or rear-seat command ejection. Design in accordance with MIL-STD-203F. Rear seat elevated 32.5 cm (1 ft 1 in). Rearview mirror for each occupant. Two-piece moulded transparent canopy, opening sideways to starboard.
SYSTEMS: Pressurisation system maximum differential 0.24 bar (3.5 lb/sq in); cockpit designed for 40,000 pressurisation cycles. Bootstrap-type air conditioning system, also providing air for windscreen and canopy demisting. Hydraulic system, pressure 172.5 bar (2,500 lb/ sq in), for actuation of flaps, aileron servos, airbrake, landing gear, wheel brakes and nosewheel steering. Back-up system for wheel brakes and emergency extension of landing gear. Main electrical DC power from one 28 V 9 kW engine-driven starter/generator and one 28 V 6 lW secondary generator; power distribution via five 28 V busses. Two 24 V 22 Ah Ni/Cd batteries for engine starting. Fixed-frequency 115/26 V AC power from two 600 VA single-phase static inverters; provision for additional inverter for three-phase AC. External power receptacle. Low-pressure demand oxygen system, operating at 28 bar (400 lb/sq in). Anti-icing system for engine air intakes.
AVIONICS: Representative fit includes following:
Comms: Honeywell AN/APX-100 IFF.
Flight: BAE 620 kbit navigation computer; RT-1159/A or Rockwell Collins AN/ARN-118(V) Tacan, or Bendix/King KDM 706A DME; Rockwell Collins 51RV-4B VOR/ILS and MKI-3 marker beacon receiver; Rockwell Collins ADF-60A ADF/L (or, optionally, DF-301E V/UHF ADF); BAE AD-660 Doppler velocity sensor integrated with Litton LR-80 inertial platform; HOTAS controls. Flight recorder and airborne stress gauge.
Instrumentation: Alenia CRT multifunction display; Alenia/Honeywell HG7505 radar altimeter; Astronautics AN/ARU-50A altitude director indicator and AN/AGU-13 HSI.
Mission: Kaiser Sabre head-up display and weapon aiming computer; Logic stores management system; provision for FIAR P 0702 laser range-finder; Lockheed Martin Fairchild video camera; photographic pod with four Vinten 70 mm cameras. Optional laser range-finder.
Self-defence: Options include ELT-156 radar warning system; single Elettronica ELT-555 ECM pod combined with AN/ALE-40 chaff/flare dispenser.
ARMAMENT: Up to 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) of external stores on six underwing hardpoints. Four inner hardpoints each stressed for up to 454 kg (1,000 lb) load, and two outer hardpoints each for up to 340 kg (750 lb) load. RNZAF aircraft fitted for AIM-9 Sidewinder and AGM-65 Maverick. Provision on two inner stations for installation of two Macchi gun pods, each containing either a 30 mm DEFA 553 cannon with 120 rounds or a 12.7 mm AN/M-3 machine gun with 350 rounds.
Other typical loads can include two Magic or AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on two outer stations; six general purpose or cluster bombs of appropriate weights; six AN/SUU-11A/A 7.62 mm Minigun pods, each with 1,500 rounds; six Matra 155 launchers, each for eighteen 68 mm rockets; six AN/LAU-68/A or AN/LAU-325G launchers, each for seven 2.75 in rockets; six Aerea AL-25-50 or AL-18-50 launchers, each with twenty-five or eighteen 50 mm rockets respectively; six Aerea AL-18-80 launchers, each with twelve 81 mm rockets; four AN/LAU-10/A launchers, each with four 5 in Zuni rockets; four TDA 100-4 launchers, each with four 100 mm TDA rockets; six Bristol Aerospace LAU-5002 launchers for CRV-7 high-velocity rockets; six Aerea BRD bomb/rocket dispensers; six Aermacchi 11B29-003 bomb/flare dispensers; six TDA 14-3-M2 adaptors, each with six BAP 100 anti-runway bombs or BAT 120 tactical support bombs. Marte 2A anti-ship missile completed MB-339 qualification trials in February 1995.