The Alenia Aermacchi S-211 of previously known as SIAI-Marchetti S.211 was the turbofan engine powered military aircraft used for trainer purposes. The aircraft was initially produced by the Italian aircraft manufacturing company by the name SIAI-Marchetti.
The development for the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 was started by the Marchetti Company back in 1976 as their private venture and they announced the first prototype a year later of starting the project. The very first prototype of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 took the first flight in April of 1981. Following the success in various tests, the aircraft was ordered for procurement by the Singapore Air force first as they placed an order of 10 these Alenia Aermacchi S-211s. Since that time nearly 60 of these Alenia Aermacchi S-211 aircraft have been sold. The Marchetti got sold to Aermacchi back in 1997 and thus the right for creating the Alenia Aermacchi S-211.
The Aermacchi has developed a more upgraded and advanced version of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 which they have named as M-311 which will make its service debut in the coming year of 2020.
Built for Air Forces with budget restrictions:-
As the world of aviation saw the growth in the lightweight and jet-powered aircraft more and more, the company named SIAI Marchetti saw to it creating a new aircraft of such type back in 1971. They started this project as an in-house private venture which was designated as the S.211.
The main reason for this program was to manufacture an aircraft that would function just as same as its predecessor aircraft designated SF.260. The aircraft proved to be a great alternative for the air forces that had budget restrictions in the procurement of new trainer aircraft. The great thing about the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 was that it could not only primarily be used as a trainer but also modified for mission sensitive needs to become a light attack aircraft.
Development and Operators:-
The work on Alenia Aermacchi S-211’s design started way back in 1976 and the aircraft’s model was presented back at the Paris Air Show of 1977. After this, the Singapore Air Force showed interest and asked for the development of 2 prototypes and the very first of them took its first flight back on 10th April 1981.
Following the many evaluation phases and testing, the aircraft was liked by the Singapore Air Force and they placed the order for procuring 10 of these aircraft, which was delivered to them back in 1983. The formal introduction of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 into the Singapore Air force was carried out in 1984.
The production line of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 kept on producing aircraft from the year 1981 to 1994 and during that time following 2 air forces also placed their orders as well.
- Philippine Air Force
- Haitian Air Force
Total number of Alenia Aermacchi S-211 produced:-
Since the production line started back with the first prototype of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211, there had been a total of 60 of these trainers. 58 of them were sold to their 3 operators. Most of the assembly for these aircraft was carried out locally but under the license from Marchetti. The details of each operator procuring these Alenia Aermacchi S-211 aircraft are as follows.
- Singapore Air Force: 30
- Philippines Air Force: 24
- Haitian Air Force: 4
The Alenia Aermacchi S-211 falls in the category of specially built aircraft that had the primary function of being a trainer but also to offer the light strike fighter aircraft capabilities as well. Such design of the dual-purpose aircraft is based upon the airframe being supplied with modern equipment as well as access to equipping eh aircraft with basic ordnance delivery weapons.
The cockpit of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 allowed for two crew members to sit in the tandem seating arrangement under a single canopy. Both of the crewmember seats were the Martin-Baker ejection seats. The aircraft’s tail is a vertical single fin with high mounted tailplanes while having a single-engine exhaust port.
Power was supplied by a single turbofan-powered jet engine that aspirated via its 2 small intake openings on either side of the cockpit while the exhaust was carried through the single port at the far end. The undercarriage of the aircraft was made fully retractable one which consisted of 2 main legs having 1 wheel each along with 1 wheeled nose leg.
The body of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 is primarily made from composite materials that make up for nearly 60 percent of its total frame and thus provides a light end product.
The power to the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 was provided by only 1 Pratt & Whitney JT15D-4C turbofan engine that created a thrust of nearly 2500lbs. This power allowed for aircraft to fly at its maximum speed of a little over 400mph for a range of 100 miles at the service ceiling of reported 40000 feet. This service ceiling was achieved with a climbing rate of 4200 ft/min.
The basic purpose for the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 was to be a trainer aircraft but the aircraft could still be equipped with modern weapons to serve as a light attack fighter. The total ordnance payload carrying capacity of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 is about 3800 lbs externally. The aircraft in its light attack fighter role could be equipped with following munitions.
- Rocket pods
- Machine gun pods
- Conventional drop tanks
Due to the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 lacking any presence of a radar facility in its nose section, the aircraft could not support the weaponry like air-to-air missiles.
Contender for the US’s JPATS Program:-
At one point in time, the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 went on to become one of the contenders for the US’s Joint Primary Aircraft Training (JPATS) Program which was to procure a single trainer aircraft to be used by both the US Air Force and the US Navy. The program was started back in the early 1990s but it ended with Beechcraft T-6 Texan II becoming the winner in 1995.
After Marchetti was bought by Aermacchi, they started modernization of the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 back in 2004. The aircraft coming out of this modernization is designated as M-311, of which only 2 prototypes have been made since 2013. That prototype took its first successful flight back in June 2015 and so far Chile has ordered for production of the M-311 locally.
Current Operational Status:-
At the moment the sole operator for the Alenia Aermacchi S-211 is the Philippine Air Force while the other operators of these aircraft have already retired it from the service.
Nearly 20 of these aircraft are also being operated by civilians in Australia. As for Philippine Air Force, they are operating only 5 of their actual 25 Alenia Aermacchi S-211 aircraft.