The Aermacchi MB-339, known as the “Macchi” in many parts of the world, is a light attack aircraft and military jet trainer that saw combat in the Falklands War of 1982 and the Eritrean–Ethiopian War of 1998 onwards.

The example you see here is the MB-339CB variant used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. This aircraft was retired from service in 2012 and has been on display since. It has low airframe hours at 1287.2 TTSN with 335.3 hours SMOH on its Rolls-Royce Viper jet engine, and it’s now being offered for public sale.

Fast Facts – The Aermacchi MB-339

  • The Aermacchi MB-339 was developed in the early 1970s as an upgraded replacement to the earlier Aermacchi MB-326 which was in service with the Italian Air Force as their standard advanced jet trainer in the 1960s and into the 1970s.
  • The MB-339 was developed to be both a capable light attack aircraft and military jet trainer. It first flew in 1976 and it entered full scale production in 1979. Impressively the jet is still in production today over 44 years later.
  • Early examples of the MB-339 were powered by the Rolls-Royce Viper 632-43 turbojet engine producing 4,000 lbf (17.8 kN) of maximum thrust. Later versions received the upgraded Viper 680 engine producing 4,300 lbf (19.57 kN) of thrust.
  • The aircraft you see here is an original Aermacchi MB-339CB, one of the 18 that were originally made. It was returned from service with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2012, it’s been in a museum collection since then, and it’s now being offered for sale.

The “Macchi” Aermacchi MB-339

The Aermacchi MB-339 was developed specifically for the Italian Air Force, to meet their need for a new advanced training jet in the mid-1970s. Aermacchi originally looked a number of proposed blank slate designs for a new jet, but ended up opting to develop the earlier Aermacchi MB-326 into the MB-339 as it was more cost effective, and the MB-326 was a well-proven platform.

Above Video: This is the original sales video created when it was decided that the Royal New Zealand Air Force would sell their fleet of 18 Aermacchi MB-339s.

The new MB-339 featured a larger wing area, a more powerful engine, and a more advanced avionics system. The aircraft was also designed to be more versatile than the MB-326, with the ability to perform both training and light-attack roles.

The MB-339 was powered by a Rolls-Royce Viper 632-43 turbojet engine, which provided a total of 4,000 lbf (17.8 kN) of thrust, with later models receiving the more powerful Viper 680 engine producing 4,300 lbf (19.57 kN) of thrust. The aircraft was capable of reaching a top speed of 898 km/h (558 mph, 485 kn), with a range of over 2,000 kilometers depending on the specific variant.

The MB-339’s cockpit was designed to be ergonomic and easy to use, with a modern avionics system that included a HUD (head-up display), an INS (inertial navigation system), and a digital flight control system in a tandem layout.

The aircraft could also equipped with a range of weapons systems, including two 12.7 mm M2 Browning or two 30mm DEFA cannon in under wing pods, pods for Zuni or SNEB unguided rockets, AIM-9 Sidewinder or R.550 Magic air-to-air missiles, and general-purpose bombs.

The Operational History Of The Aermacchi MB-339

The MB-339 entered service with the Italian Air Force in 1979, and quickly proved to be a highly effective training and light-attack aircraft.

Aermacchi MB-339 3

Image DescriptionThe cockpit of the Aermacchi MB-339 was equipped so as to be an ideal stepping stone from a training environment into the cockpit of aircraft like the F-18 and F-16.

The aircraft’s versatility and advanced capabilities made it popular with other air forces around the world, with several countries placing orders for the aircraft over the years including the aforementioned nation of Italy, as well as Malaysia, the United States of America, Argentina, Peru, Nigeria, Ghana, Eritrea, the United Arab Emirates, and New Zealand.

The MB-339 has been used in a wide range of roles, including basic and advanced pilot training, tactical fighter training, and light-attack missions. The aircraft has been deployed in several conflicts, including the Gulf War, the Balkan conflicts, the Falklands War, and the Eritrean–Ethiopian War where it proved to be an effective ground-attack aircraft.

One of the most significant users of the MB-339 is the Royal Malaysian Air Force, which operates over 30 of the aircraft in a variety of roles. The Malaysian MB-339s have been used for basic and advanced pilot training, as well as for light-attack missions. The aircraft have been upgraded over the years with modern avionics and weapons systems, and have proven to be highly effective in their various roles.

Another significant user of the MB-339 is the Argentine Air Force, which operates over 20 of the aircraft. The Argentine MB-339s have been used for pilot training and light-attack missions, and have been deployed in several conflicts over the years.

Aermacchi MB-339 7

Image DescriptionThis low time Aermacchi MB-339 is a good candidate to be returned to the air due to its low operating hours, it would need a full recommissioning first of course.

The MB-339 has also been used by the Italian Navy, which operates a navalized version of the aircraft called the MB-339A. The navalized version is equipped with a range of systems that allow it to operate from aircraft carriers and other naval vessels. The Italian Navy has used the MB-339A for both training and light-attack missions.

In total over 230 examples of the Aermacchi MB-339 have been built and despite the fact that the aircraft first entered service in 1979 it remains in production today.

The Ex-RNZAF 1990 Aermacchi MB-339CB Shown Here

The aircraft you see here is one of the 18 originally ordered by the Royal New Zealand Air Force and it was largely used as a flight trainer and weapons training aircraft. The RNZAF version of the MB-339 is the MB-339CB and it was powered by the Viper 680-43 engine and equipped with a laser rangefinder, radar detection, AIM-9L Sidewinder, and AGM-65 Maverick capability.

Aermacchi MB-339 6

Image DescriptionThough the cockpit looks largely original the ejection seat system has been removed for safety while it’s on display, and the weapons control panel has also been taken off.

The MB-339C first entered service in 1991 and they were eventually retired in 2012, some were sold and a number of aircraft were sent to museums around New Zealand for display.

The aircraft you see here is one such museum model however if given the appropriate recommissioning it could be returned to airworthy status if the new owner so wishes.

It has relatively low hours, the airframe has just 1,394.1 hours total time since new (TTSN) and the Rolls-Royce Viper engine has 1,287.2 hours total time and 335.3 since the last major overhaul.

The jet is now being offered for sale through Platinum Fighters out of New Zealand with an asking price of $595,000 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

It’s important to note that any sale would require approval of the buyer from the Italian Government and a New Zealand Export Permit. The aircraft was disarmed after its military service which involved removing the pyrotechnics from the ejection seats and removing the weapons control panel.  

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Images courtesy of Platinum Fighters

Published by Ben Branch -