One of three M-346 advanced jet trainer aircraft recently delivered to the Qatar Emiri Air Force under the scope of its International Flight Training School agreement with Italy was seen at a recent pilot graducation ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base. (Government of Qatar)
Qatar has received its first Leonardo M-346 Master advanced jet trainer aircraft from Italy, the manufacturer confirmed to Janes on 26 January.
The M-346s were ordered as part of an agreement for Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) training at Italy's International Flight Training School (IFTS), with the first aircraft appearing in Qatar during a student pilot graduation ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base on 26 January.
“The QEAF has ordered six aircraft as part of an agreement for the Qatari pilot training at the International Flight Training School,” Leonardo told Janes, adding, “The first three aircraft [...] are now in Qatar”.
The Italian government announced in November 2020 that QEAF pilots would be trained at the IFTS, which is operated as a joint venture by Leonardo and the Italian Air Force at Lecce-Galatina and Decimomannu Air Base in Sardinia.
It is unclear if the two aircraft that took part in the flypast ceremony at Qatar's Armed Forces Air Academy (also known as the Al Zaeem Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Attiyah Air College) will remain in Qatar, or if they will return to Italy.
Besides the M-346, the QEAF also utilises the BAE Systems Hawk for advanced pilot training, with nine aircraft located at Royal Air Force (RAF) Leeming in the United Kingdom.