UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Light Weight Fighters / Attack Aircraft

Intermediate Jet Trainers

Tejas LCAIndiaHAL13.31.70
AMX / ATAEU + BrazilAleniaEmbraer13.00.86
T-50 Golden EagleROKKAILockheed12.01.53
Hürjet NFA / T-XTurkeyTAISaab?BAE???.?1.??
F-5 Freedom FighterUSofANorthrop9.41.40
JF-17 / FC-1PakistanPACChengdu9.11.60
L-159 ALCACzechAeroBoeing8.00.78
FA-259 StrikerCzechAeroIAE7.90.82
AT-3 AJTTaiwanAIDC7.90.73
Hawk EUBAe7.5.0.80
Yasin / Kowsar 88IranHESA--6.21.2
T-7 Red HawkUSABoeingSaab5.51.04
Sitara HJT-36IndiaHAL4.80.80
JL-8 / K-8China+PakNanchang PAC 4.30.75

Turbo-prop Primary Trainers / COIN

IA-58 PucaraArgentinaFMA6.80.4
AT-29 Super TucanoBrazilEmbraer5.40.48
IA-63 PampaArgentinaFMA5.00.8
AT-63 PampaArgentinaFMALockheed5.00.8
PC-21Swiss Pilatus 4.30.72
AT-27 TucanoBrazilEmbraer3.20.36
T-6 JPATSUSAHawker 3.10.48
PZL-130 OrlikPolandPZL2.70.36

High-performance aircraft like the F-15, F-16, F-22, and unmanned systems like the MQ-1 and MQ-9 require complex and costly support packages. These aircraft demand long, smoothly paved, and pristine runways. They require avionic repair shops; petroleum, oil, and lubricant facilities; and various other support activities. Operating and maintaining this level of infrastructure is not only extremely costly but also manpower intensive, requiring the deployment of numerous support and security personnel and special equipment.

A lightweight fighter or attack aircraft should be small, maneuverable, and relatively inexpensive, while having a combat radius similar to that of its heavier brethren. Such aircraft are ideal for replacing the many existing fighters used by smaller air forces around the world, which would find it difficult to effectively operate the complex types that meet US needs. Many of these aircraft have to air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities, while some cut costs by not including the radar needed for air-to-air engagements, providing only air-to-ground capabilities In many cases these aircraft are also trainers, and may serve as the low end for an air force operating a high-low mix of combat aircraft.

Small teams of special operations forces and regionally aligned forces deploy to advise and assist allied and partner-nation forces around the globe in irregular warfare (IW), specifically counter-insurgency and foreign internal defense. The deployment of high-performance jet aircraft in support of such operations is not only impractical but also unlikely due to their high operating costs. Instead, military requirements are for an inexpensive, light air support (LAS) aircraft as a practical and cost-effective means of providing air support in small-scale environments.

Light Air Support aircraft are fixed-wing, piston or turbine powered, propeller driven, single or multi-engine aircraft. Rugged and inexpensive LAS airframes like the AT-6 Wolverine, A-29 Super Tucano, AT-802U, AC-208 Combat Caravan, and OV-10 Super Bronco are all well suited for this role. Armed with the latest avionics, sensors, and weapons, these aircraft would prove invaluable to such efforts due to their long loiter times.

Light air support aircraft, with their piston or turbine powered props, consume significantly less fuel than jet aircraft. Conservative fuel consumption and low stall speeds allow LAS aircraft to loiter longer and cheaper than their high-performance counterparts do. Most models are capable of flying five-hour sorties on internal fuel alone and conducting sorties in excess of 10 hours when operating with external drop tanks.

World Fighter Inventory

1 F-16 2,242 15%
2 F/A-18 1,046 7%
3 Su-27/30/33/35 874 6%
4 F-15 854 6%
5 MiG-29 793 5%
6 MiG-21 668 5%
7 Su-25 506 3%
8 F-5 468 3%
9 F-7 460 3%
10 J-7 418 3%
Other 6,255 43%
total 14,584 100%
Flight International’s 2015 World Air Forces directory
By the late 1990s, military planners in the air forces and procurement departments in the MoDs of many countries could only select between two alternatives: either they can look into a magnitude of existing, affordable but elderly designs of combat aircraft such as the F-16, Mirage 2000, MiG-29 etc. or they could cast an eye on those fighters which were due to enter service within the next few years, like the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale or the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Seemingly there was almost nothing for them on the market fitting into their mostly tight budgets and giving them the security to buy a weapon system with a substantially long and effective service-life.

By 2000, based upon in-house surveys and assured by independent market studies, EADS was convinced that there would be a clear potential for 2,500 modern light fighters/advanced trainer aircraft between the years 2005 and 2025 within the accessible export market. By that time, fielded combat aircraft and high-end jet trainers were at the far end of their life-cycle with almost no potential for economically viable upgrades, while the modern systems may be not available for some customers for either know-how or cost constraints.

In the 21st Century, a change in the trainer segment with high-performance turbo-prop aircraft covering even more capabilities in advanced training is obvious. At the same time, next-generation fighter aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon provide for a major performance leap, leading to a training gap between contemporary jet trainers or their derivatives now under development and the future front-line fighters. New lightweight fighters may cover this gap by having excellent capabilities as a companion trainer. This would save training hours on the high-performance fighter aircraft and thus give the air forces cost reductions. In the fighter segment, the advent of the next-generation combat aircraft shifted performance into higher dimensions. Below this high-end aircraft category there are few new dedicated fighters. The market here is characterised by used third-generation fighter aircraft, which have low unit costs at first glance, but will punish their new customers with tremendous life-cycle costs in operation. New aircraft in this class that provide air forces with a modern flying weapon system at low cost of ownership featuring modern avionics, high agility, low signatures thanks to a stealthy design, and a broad stores compendium.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 31-10-2019 16:50:53 ZULU