Poland signed a contract for eight Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master jet trainer aircraft on 27 February for the country's Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) programme.
Worth PZL1.168 billion (USD377 million), the contract goes beyond simply delivery of the aircraft, including a complete integrated-training package for the Polish Air Force's 41st Air Training Base at Deblin.
Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to begin in 2016 and complete in 2017. The training package also includes full-mission flight simulators, task trainers, other training components, logistics support, and the provision of training for both pilots and ground crew. The contract also includes an option for four additional M-346 trainers.
The contract for the programme was signed by representatives from Alenia Aermacchi and the Polish Armament Inspectorate at the 41st Air Training Base.
Speaking following the ceremony, Polish Secretary of State for Defence Czeslaw Mroczek said: "The system that we are buying is not just aircraft - it's a simulator and a logistics package and is an extremely important component of the training that we have been building for many years."
The contract ends four years of troubled attempts to replace Poland's ageing PZL TS-11 Iskra jet trainers, which date from the late 1970s. A previous effort, known as the Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) programme, was cancelled in November 2011, before the current AJT programme was launched in February 2013.
Alenia Aermacchi was downselected for the AJT programme in December 2013 after its bid of PZL1.168 billion was the only one to fall within Poland's planned budget of PLZ1.196. Bids from BAE Systems for its Hawk AJT, and from Lockheed Martin UK with the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle were both significantly above this threshold at PZL1.754 billion and PZL1.803 billion respectively.
Following the December 2013 downselect, a single M-346 Master successfully passed Polish Air Force trials earlier in February.