Light Weight Fighters / Attack Aircraft
Intermediate Jet Trainers
|AMX / ATA||EU + Brazil||Alenia||Embraer||13.0||0.86|
|T-50 Golden Eagle||ROK||KAI||Lockheed||12.0||1.53|
|Hürjet NFA / T-X||Turkey||TAI||Saab?BAE?||??.?||1.??|
|F-5 Freedom Fighter||USofA||Northrop||9.4||1.40|
|JF-17 / FC-1||Pakistan||PAC||Chengdu||9.1||1.60|
|Yasin / Kowsar 88||Iran||HESA||--||6.2||1.2|
|T-7 Red Hawk||USA||Boeing||Saab||5.5||1.04|
|JL-8 / K-8||China+Pak||Nanchang||PAC||4.3||0.75|
Turbo-prop Primary Trainers / COIN
|AT-29 Super Tucano||Brazil||Embraer||5.4||0.48|
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
|Flight International’s 2015 World Air Forces directory|
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.
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