Poland has chosen the Alenia Aermacchi M346 jet trainer to meet its requirement for a new generation lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT).

The €280 million ($383 million) contract for eight aircraft also includes training, technical and logistics support. The company will also provide simulators and other training devices and options for a further four aircraft.

The contract is scheduled to be signed in early 2014.

Some 48 M346s aircraft have now been ordered, by the Italian, Singaporean and Israeli governments.

The selection comes less than a year after the Polish Armament Directorate announced plans for a new training aircraft to replace the aging PZL TS-11 Iskra, which has served the Polish air force since the late 1960s.

Poland has been hunting for a LIFT aircraft for about five years, since the arrival of its Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet. The new tender reflects an urgent need to begin training in country as the current contract for F-16 crew training in the U.S. is understood to be coming to an end in 2016.

Other contenders bidding for the deal included the KAI/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle and the BAE Systems Hawk. The deal is part of a wide-ranging modernization of the Polish armed forces.