The Spanish unit of Airbus has unveiled a new advanced jet trainer concept that it intends to offer to the Spanish Ministry of Defense to replace the C-101 and F-5 aircraft currently in service for advanced pilot training.
Called Airbus Flexible Jet Trainer (AFJT), the project is now just a paper study, and was presented to Spanish media last week by Fernando Peces, head of the Spanish Eurofighter program for Airbus Military Aircraft, and Javier Escribano, head of Future Combat Programs.
Images released by Airbus depict the AFJT as a single-engine, tandem two-seater, with a fuselage of conventional design not unlike the Mako light combat aircraft designed by Airbus predecessor companies in the 1980-1990s.
Airbus says that the AFJT project was designed by and for Spain, and is positioned as the operational, industrial and technological development solution that would allow the country to continue with its position as a leading player in the aerospace and defense sector.
AFJT would be entirely managed by the Spanish unit of the company’s Military Aircraft division, the former CASA, which already makes the C295, A400M and A330MRTT aircraft, produces the Eurofighter’s right wing and assembles Spanish Eurofighters. Airbus Spain would be in sole charge of the design, integration and assembly of AFJT, with Spanish subcontractors providing as much as possible of the necessary components and subcomponents.
To make the project even more attractive for the Spanish government, Airbus says additional variants could follow from the AFJT, possibly including a light attack fighter or and an aggressor-type combat training aircraft.
Airbus claims that every 100 million euros invested in the AFJT would generate between 2,100 and 2,500 jobs in Spain, returning about 36 million euros in taxes and social contributions to Spanish coffers of. In addition, Spain would receive royalties if the aircraft was exported to other countries.
The cherry on the AFJT cake, however, is the Airbus suggestion that Spain, like its FCAS partners France and Germany, will need a similar trainer for the future New-Generation Trainer. If all three countries were to participate in the AFJT project, development costs would be shared among the three, although it is not clear what role Spain could play if it became the very junior partner.
Airbus estimates that the Spanish Air Force will need 50 to 55 aircraft to replace the F-5 and the C-101 in the training role as well as those in its aerobatic teams. On the export market, Airbus estimates that between 500 and 800 trainers will be required until 2029, without counting possible light attack and aggressor variants.