During the Paris Air Show, Leonardo and Nexter (a subsidiary of KNDS) announced the launch of a joint development programme that aims to introduce a new 20mm gun pod on the M-346FA (Fighter Attack) – the armed variant of the former’s M-346 Master advanced jet trainer family.
The move, which was announced on June 22, comes after the two firms successfully completed a feasibility study that demonstrated the capability of adding a Link and Case Recovery (LCR) system to the M-346FA. As a result of this, Leonardo and Nexter decided to team up on the joint development of integrating a new 20mm 20M621 cannon pod onto the light combat-configured variant of the Master.
The integration of this new cannon will bring more advanced combat capabilities when compared with the 12.7mm (.50 calibre) alternatives, such as increased range, precision and final combat effect. According to Nexter, “the 20M621 weapon solution, [which is] easy to integrate, operate and maintain, is a NATO-calibre ITAR-free solution designed for air application. As other weapons and systems developed and produced by Nexter for [the] air domain, it is light and offers effectiveness and performance.”
Commenting on the move, Dario Marfè – Senior Vice President Commercial at CSS&T Propriety Programs Business at Leonardo – said: “Leonardo is strongly convinced that Nexter is the right partner. Nexter’s 20mm gun pod integration will boost [the] combat responsiveness of M-346FA in homeland defence, counterinsurgency (COIN), close air support (CAS)/close-in combat missions, thanks to an ITAR-free solution suitable for many customers worldwide.”