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AMX 2-Seat Trainer

Embraer and Alenia pooled their resources to develop and build the AMX-T, a two-seat, single-engine, high-performance subsonic attack jet for advanced and fighter lead-in training. The aircraft retained the superb operational capabilities of the single-seat AMX attack jet and provided the required performance to make pilots acquainted with the demands of modern combat scenarios. Its avionics suite featured latest-generation technology and the most advanced man-machine interface on the market.

The AMX-T is a twin seater, high performance transonic turbofan jet, specifically developed for Advanced and Fighter Lead-In Training. It maintained the operational characteristics of the AMX - Ground Attack Fighter - in operation with the Brazilian (FAB) and Italian (AMI) Air Forces. It is a high subsonic trainer with a low level dash speed in excess of 500 kt in any armed configuration. Baseline commonality between the AMX-T and the Super Tucano in terms of electronics, computers, and cockpit concepts allows for a smooth transition between aircraft and reduces training costs for both pilots and maintenance technicians.

The AMX-T is an updated version of the AMX aircraft developed by Embraer and its Italian partners, to meet the demanding operational requirements of both Brazil and Italy Air Forces. More than 150 AMX aircraft were in service in both countries armed services. This version is a fully computerized aircraft that incorporates the latest technological innovations to meet the needs of advanced training and fighter lead-in for military pilots. Also, the AMX-T maintains all the operational capabilities of the original, combat-proven AMX aircraft.

Development of the two-seater, which started in June of 1986, moved along according to schedule and the first flight took place in the second half of 1989. It is interesting to note that the operational capabilities of the single-seat version of this plane remain practically unchanged in the 2-seat version. The two versions, in fact, have many components in common, and this facilitates the servicing and maintenance of AMX single-seaters and 2-seaters within the same flight line, free of any particular difficulty. Space for the rear cockpit was made by reducing the volume of the internal fuel tanks. This cockpit is equipped with, among other things, a Ferranti International Signal MED 2067 video monitor display, which, with its high-resolution imaging and low energy consumption, can be used as an HUD [head-up display] and is compatible with night-vision systems.

The AMX is a single-engined single-seater optimized for close battlefield support and tactical reconnaissance, and is also capable of carrying out interdiction and counter-air missions. The 2-seat version, on the other hand, is intended for advanced training and operational conversion, and for special missions where the presence of a second crew-member is essential. The plane's architecture was designed to provide a substantial survival capability in the event of malfunctions or damage sustained in combat. The primary flight control system controls the plane in three axes and, as specified in the "military requirements," provides the AMX with sufficient maneuvering capability effective for the first hydraulic or electrical malfunction. Even in the event of a second malfunction of this type, the plane can return to its base, owing to the duplication and separation of the control lines and power systems, and to provision for manual control and emergency fallback for pitch and roll.

The wing is cantilevered at a medium height, has a moderate sweepback (31 degrees at the leading edge and 27 degrees 30 minutes at one fourth the chord length), a high thickness ratio (12 percent of the chord), and an aspect ratio of 3.75 to 1. Its structure is of the twistresistant wing spar box type, with three spars and stressed skin construction for integral stiffening. Each half-wing is attached to the fuselage at three points, each corresponding with one of its three spars. The slats are split-hinged and extend along almost the entire length of the leading edge. The flaps are of the double-slotted Fowler type, are also split, and occupy approximately two thirds of the wing trailing edge. Mounted forward of the flaps, on the top surface of each half-wing, is a pair of spoilers that are used both as spoilers and as air brakes. The ailerons have a reduced area, are devoid of balancing tabs, are hydraulically operated with provision for manual inversion, and occupy the outer section of the trailing edge.

The dualled aileron and spoiler systems provides lateral control even at low speeds, owing to the large area of the flaps, and satisfies the minimal-vulnerability requirement. In the event of a single hydraulic malfunction, the system is configured so that only one pair of spoilers is lost. If both hydraulic lines fail, the plane can be controlled manually by operating the ailerons. A spring-loaded system provides artificial sensing, while trimming and roll-damping devices provide optimal flight control capabilities throughout the plane's rated flight envelope.

The AMX's wing design is governed by strict criteria of simplicity and robustness, but also draws abundantly on the most advanced technologies and on the experience already gained with the Tornado. The more pronounced sweep angle between the leading edge and trailing edge increases the efficiency of the flaps and control surfaces, while the high-wing configuration, already a feature of the MB-340 design, enables the attachment of loads, even of considerable bulk, to the wing pylons.

The fuselage has a semi-monocoque structure of circular cross-section. The forward section provides the housings for the plane's avionics, its various items of equipment, its M61 cannon (replaced by two DEFA's in the Brazilian planes) and respective ammunition, the forward landing gear, and the cockpit. The latter is positioned prominently and thus provides good forward (18 degrees) and lateral visibility, a very desirable feature for air-to-ground missions as well as air combat at close quarters. Other avionics components and electrical and reconnaissance equipment are located below and behind the cockpit. The mid-section of the plane houses the air intakes, the main landing gear, and the engine bay. The air intakes are of the fixed-geometry type, made of composite materials, and are designed to ensure an adequate flow of air, hence optimum engine efficiency, throughout the flight envelope. Moreover, their location on the sides of the fuselage behind the cockpit minimizes the risk of ingesting birds or other foreign objects and unclutters the pilot's rear and lateral angles of visibility.

The aft section supports the tail assembly and is completely removable to facilitate the quick removal of the engine. The tail assembly is of the traditional type and features completely mobile variable-incidence stabilizers. The latter characteristic is inherited from the Tornado. The stabilizers are equipped with balancers and their rather low position with respect to the half-wings helps minimize the effects of downwash, hence provides good stability even at high angles of incidence. The stabilizer-balancer complex provides good longitudinal control of the plane. Two separate mechanical transmission systems permit the longitudinal control to act upon the two balancers, which are operated by two hydraulic actuators, powered by independent hydraulic circuits. The mechanical transmission lines can transmit manual control commands and are equipped with a release system that ensures maneuvering capability should one of the lines become inoperative owing to a malfunction. A hydraulic spring provides the controls with artificial sensing, while, in an emergency, a signal and a separate electrical line start up one. of the electric motors that actuate the stabilizers.

The sweptback vertical empennage consists of the fin and rudder. The fin is made of composite materials by Aeritalia, whose experience in this field goes back many years and is now very substantial. The fin spar box consists of a mUlti-spar monolithic structure made of carbon-fiber-reinforced epoxy resin laminates. The midsection of the structure consists of two panels, which give the surface the necessary aerodynamic profile, and five spars. The only metallic components are the aluminum alloy points of attachment to the fuselage, and two ribs. The components are assembled in an autoclave in a single work cycle. This expedient enables the bonding of the components without the use of metallic junctions and results in a weight reduction of 20 percent and a saving in machining costs. The leading edge of the tailplane is of one-piece construction, made of Kevlar, and has excellent strength characteristics. For the rudder, as well as for the stabilizer balancers, a carbon-fiber beehive structure was used. Static tests run on these surfaces amply demonstrated the characteristics of robustness required of them and confirmed their advantage over traditional metallic materials from the standpoint of economy of maintenance. Steering is controlled by a signal sent by the pilot via a mechanical link to a two-cylinder hydraulic actuator.

The landing gear was developed by Messier-HispanoBugatti and built in Italy by Magnaghi and by ERAM. It is of the hydraulically-operated retractable tricycle type. The nose-gear is steerable within a range of 60 degrees, forward retractable, self-centering, and equipped with an antishimmy device. The front tire is an 18 x 5.5-8. The two main gears ~re forward retractable, and are equipped with 670 x 210-12 tires inflated to 9.65 atmospheres, with a normal hydraulic and emergency braking system, and an antiskid system. Each gear of the undercarriage is equipped with oleopneumatic dampers. A hydraulicelectric system operates the landing gear, which in the event of a complete failure is actuated by an emergency system. Moreover, the plane has no braking chute; it is equipped with an underbelly arrester hook for engaging an emergency barrier.

The power plant is a Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 807 dual-shaft turbofan without afterburner, with a rated thrust of 5,007 kg (49. 1 kN). The Spey is 2.45 m long, weighs 1,114 kg, and has a bypass ratio of 0.93 to 1 and a compression ratio of 16.3 to 1 (equivalent to 91.6 kg of air per second). This turbofan has a modular design and is being built by a consortium consisting of Fiat Aviazione (prime contractor), Piaggio, Alfa Romeo Avio, and the Brazilian firm CELMA. The Spey-a variant of which has an afterburner- presently powers numerous military and civil aviation planes throughout the world and was chosen because of its low specific consumption ratings and its particular characteristics of reliability and robustness. The extensive experience Rolls-Royce has acquired with this engine has yielded particularly high values of MTBF [Mean Time Between Failures] and TBO [Time Between Overhauls] that are clearly advantageous in terms of the planning of maintenance activities.

Integrated in the Spey are a gearbox, a low-pressure fuel pump, and a Fiat Aviazione FA 150 Argo dual-shaft 150-hp APU [auxiliary power unit]. This compact modular APU was designed to satisfy the high-operationalflexibility requirements of new generation secondary power systems and will also be installed on planes currently under development, such as the EFA [European Fighter Aircraft]. The APU provides the turbofan with a self-starting capability, without the need for external energy sources, and this enables the AMX to operate even from forward-based fields devoid of support facilities. The FA 150 Argo also powers the conditioning system and enables the preflight checking of the principal onboard systems with engines off, thus yielding a substantial advantage in terms of the plane's readiness for takeoff.

Fuel is carried in 9 self-sealing tanks in the fuselage and 2 wing-integrated tanks. In addition, two sizes of detachable auxiliary tanks, 1,100 and 580 liters respectively, can be suspended from the wing pylons. The choice of integrated and self-sealing tanks was designed to satisfy various requirements as to vulnerability and protection. A single-point attachment port is provided within easy manual reach from the ground for quick refueling and emptying of the tanks, including the external ones. In addition, other filler openings enable gravity-feed refueling. Plans also callled for the installation of a lateral probe on the AMX for air refueling from planes equipped with the buddy-buddy pod or from tanker planes.

The pilot's seat is a Martin Baker Mk 10L, equally ejectable at zero velocity and altitude, and in flight at speeds in excess of 560 knots and altitudes of over 50,000 feet. To improve visibility, the windshield and the canopy, which is hinged on the starboard side of the cockpit, have been molded as a single piece. The cockpit is very comfortable and is pressurized and air-conditioned.

The design of the cockpit embodies, in addition to the most advanced ergonomic principles, the new HOT AS [Hands on Throttle and Stick] concept, aimed at minimizing the psycho-physical demand on the pilot and thus increasing his concentration during some phases of the flight. A Microtecnica ECS [environmental control system] pressurizes and air-conditions the cockpit, controls the temperature of the avionics and reconnaissance equipment compartments, de-ices the air intakes, defrosts the windshield, and inflates the pilot's anti-g suit. The dually-redundant hydraulic systems are powered by the turbofan's gearbox and operate at a pressure of 207 atmospheres. They in tum power the main controls, the flaps, spoilers, undercarriage, brakes and wheel-steering system, antiskid system, and M61 cannon system. The primary electrical system-alternating current at 1151220 volts and a fixed frequency of 400 Hzis powered by two 30-kV A generators and is equipped with two transformer-rectifiers for conversion to direct current at 28 volts. Emergency power is provided by two 36-ampere-hour nickel-cadmium batteries capable of powering the essential systems in the event of failure of the primary and secondary systems. The engine can be started up by the FA 150 Argo APU.

The AMX's fixed armament consists of a General Electric 20-mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon, manufactured under license in Italy by Breda, and installed in the lower portside section ofthe nose. In the Brazilian planes, this weapon, which has a theoretical firing rate of 4,000 rounds per minute, is replaced by two 30-mm DEFA 554 cannons. The plane has 7 attachment points for external loads-totaling 3,800 kg in all: 1 under the belly, 4 inside and outside the wing pylons, and 2 under the wing tips. The latter two are designed to take launch rails for air-to-air missiles of the AIM-9L Sidewinder type (MAA-I Piranha on FAB planes). The underbelly attachment point and the two points inside the pylons have a capacity of 907 kg each, while the two points outside the pylons can support 454 kg each. These attachment points can be equipped with racks of various types (single-, double-, or three-track) depending on the requirements, or with detachable 560- and 1,1 OO-liter auxiliary tanks.

A buddy-buddy pod for air refueling can also be attached to the underbelly point. For close-support, counter-air, and interdiction missions, bombs of various types (Mk 82, Mk 83 and Mk 84 free-drop and delayed-action, and BL 755 fragmentation bombs), and pods for rockets and air-to-surface missiles such as the AGM-65 Maverick, can be used. The antiship variant equipped with multimode radar, on the other hand, can also use air-to-surface missiles. The AMX's pylon attachment points are also compatible with the new Skyshark submunitions dispenser developed by the CASMU consortium formed by Aeritalia and SNIA-BPD. The dispenser, which is offered in the glider and self-powered variants, would enable the AMX to hit heavily protected and extended-area targets, such as air bases, from a stand-off position.

The AMX's reconnaissance system consists of alternative palletized assemblies which can be installed in a fuselage compartment located behind the cockpit, and of an optronics pod hooked on to the underbelly attachment point. The four assemblies enable panoramic, TV, aero-photogrammetric, and infrared imaging and can be installed without in the least impairing the plane's operating capabilities.

Particular attention was given in the design to facilitating the accessibility of onboard equipment, so as to simplify and speed up maintenance, preflight, and turnaround operations. For the most part, the systems are housed in cubicles within easy manual reach (not more than 1.7 m above the floor at most), and is easily accessible by way of some 200 movable panels that permit the carrying out of 95 percent of the required inspections without having to remove a single component. The equipment units are grouped homogeneously to avoid interference among the specialists at work in and around the plane.

The AMX's equipment, like the Tornado's, is self-testing and the maintenance it undergoes is predominantly of the on-condition type. Through extensive use of BITE [built-in test equipment] and the presence of a suitably centralized panel, the plane's various onboard systems can be checked, and malfunctions detected and visually displayed. The inspection process is thus speeded up and the time the planes are inoperative owing to maintenance requirements is reduced. On-line maintenance (1st and 2nd levels), scheduled and unscheduled, requires less than 12 man-hours per hour of flight. The cockpit and avionics equipment are kept air conditioned by the APU during inspection by the technical personnel as well. Preflight checks of the plane and its avionics can be carried out by a single specialist in less than 10 minutes.

Turnaround readying of the plane, on the other hand, requires a full 10 minutes and the work of two specialists. As for readiness and takeoff times, it can be said that, over the long term, an AMX plane could guarantee an extremely short reaction time except for minor maintenance requirements. With onboard equipment turned on in standby mode, the plane can be kept at the peak of its operational performance capabilities, ready for takeoff, for several hours. With its systems not activated, the plane can take off under scramble conditions in a very few minutes.

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Page last modified: 16-09-2013 19:35:41 ZULU