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South Korea deploys AH-64E Apache helicopters for training
by Elizabeth Shim
Seoul (UPI) Dec 29, 2016

New Aermacchi M-345 prototype completes first flight
Varese, Italy (UPI) Dec 30, 2016 - A prototype of Leonardo-Finmeccanica's Aermacchi M-345 High Efficiency Trainer military aircraft took its first flight during a recent test.

The 30-minute flight took place on Dec. 29 at the Venegono Superiore airfield in Varese, Italy. The plane was flown by two pilots from Leonardo's aircraft division, including Giacomo Iannelli and Quirino Bucci.

"The aircraft conducted itself perfectly, meeting the expectations of the design parameters while showing excellent performance," Bucci said in a press release. "The engine in particular demonstrated a great capacity to react to regime changes, which is a fundamental characteristic for a basic training aircraft."

Leonardo says the company intends to finish flight testing the prototype by the end of 2017 ahead of planned avionics, engine, and flight envelope expansion projects to enhance the plane's speed, altitude, and maneuverability.

The Aermacchi M-345 HET is a planned training aircraft designed to prepare military pilots for handling combat jets in addition to operational roles. The Italian Air Force plans to procure the craft to replace its existing MB.339A fleet.

The twin-seat trainer is powered by a turbofan in the 1,600 kg / 3,500 lbs. maximum thrust range.

South Korea's military deployed powerful AH-64E Apache helicopters for the first time during an exercise Thursday.

The AH-64E, which features digital cockpit avionics and powerful engines, would be used to target incoming North Korea military tanks, Yonhap reported.

The 30-millimeter chain gun located under the aircraft's forward fuselage, as well as mounted rockets, can hit targets within a 1.25-mile range, according to the report.

The Apache's rocket launcher can carry several 2.75-inch aerial rockets.

The exercise involving six Apache helicopters was held at a military range in Yangpyeong, in South Korea's Gyeonggi Province, an area near Seoul.

South Korea first brought in Apache helicopters in May.

The exercise held Thursday included the firing of 30 rounds of ammunition from the helicopter's chain gun and the launch of two aerial rockets.

A second phase of the exercise included the firing of 10 rounds of ammunition and 12 South Korean pilots were involved in the training, according to the report.

Seoul's Army Chief of Staff Jang Jun-gyu told Yonhap the "Apache just in appearance is enough to give fear and send shivers to the enemy."

Jang also asked pilots to step up training for nighttime and bad weather conditions.

The military plans to phase in 36 Apaches in 2017.

The helicopters would be responsible for defeating North Korean tanks coming across the demilitarized zone as well as incoming hovercraft.

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