Airbus Defence and Space (DS) has revealed a new advanced jet trainer (AJT) design that it is pitching at the Spanish Air Force’s (Ejército del Aire Español: EdAE) lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) requirements.
Revealed on 16 October, the Airbus Future Jet Trainer (AFJT) is a single-engined twin-seat design that is geared at replacing the EdAE’s ageing CASA C101 and Northrop F-5 Tiger II trainer platforms (though it should be noted that the air force has previously selected the Pilatus PC-21 turboprop as its C101 replacement).
“The AFJT is a programme designed by and for Spain, which is positioned as the operational, industrial and technological development solution that would allow the country to continue with its position as the main actor in the aerospace and defence sector,” the company said. “The conception and design of the AFJT is based on the pillars of safety, economy, simplicity and reliability.”
As noted by Airbus, the AFJT is to be equipped with a state-of-the-art avionics suite that builds on the EdAE’s previous experience with the F-5, Boeing EF-18 Hornet and Eurofighter. It would also provide the base for a student pilot’s transition to the ‘sixth-generation’ New Generation Fighter (NGF) that Spain is developing alongside France and Germany as part of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
It is estimated that for every 100 million euros invested in the AFJT, between 2,100 and 2,500 jobs will be created in Spain and a return for the Spanish coffers of about 36 million euros in taxes and social contributions. In addition, Spain would receive royalties for exports to other countries.
Spain’s government has not yet allocated any funding toward a new trainer system, Airbus said. A budget is expected to be revealed by the end of 2020 or early 2021. The Spanish Ministry of Defense last year committed to buying 24 Pilatus PC-21 trainer jets, to begin replacing its 1980s-era C-101 aircraft.
Airbus serves as the AFJT lead contractor in charge of design, assembly and integration. Other suppliers include: Indra for flight simulations and systems; Tecnobit for communications and machine-pilot interface systems; ITP Aero — the Spanish subsidiary of Rolls-Royce — supplying the engine; GMV providing software and flight systems; and Compañía Española de Sistemas Aeronáuticos S.A. (CESA) providing the landing gear and actuators.
“We are launching [this program] with all of industry, trying to capture all of their inputs in a single contract,” Nin said. “The ambition is there” to have a fully Spanish industry team, he added.
Airbus anticipates that there are between 500 to 800 trainer aircraft around the globe to be replaced within the next decade. “We cannot deny that there is a good opportunity” to capture part of that market, Tena said.