Front-line fighters and bombers continue to exploit leading-edge technologies and are becoming increasingly complex as more sophisticated systems and weapons are crammed into them

Stewart Penney/LONDON


As recent events over the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and on the India-Pakistan border prove, combat aircraft are as necessary now as they have ever been. This is underlined by key competitions under way in Eastern Europe, as new and potential NATO members replace Cold War-era equipment with modern fighters.

In terms of sheer numbers of aircraft, however, the battle for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) between Boeing and a Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman/British Aerospace team is the most crucial. Almost 3,000 aircraft are required by the USAir Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps, the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

Exports could add up to another 2,000 more aircraft, the competitors believe. Other countries already participating in the JSF programme include Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Turkey.

Affordability is a crucial requirement of the JSF programme, breaking the cycle of ever-increasing combat aircraft prices. To shatter the cost mould, manufacturers will rely on technologies developed for the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor and other programmes. As a result, the JSF will cost about $30 million apiece, compared with the F-22's $70 million sticker price.

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, meanwhile, are in the initial stages of procuring Western aircraft. In these and other competitions, a group of "usual suspects" is emerging: the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-16 and the Saab/BAe Gripen. Boeing, for its part, is preparing to offer the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, as it nears the end of F/A-18C/D Hornet production.

Other offerings include the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Mirage 2000 and Rafale, as well as the MAPO MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 from Russia.

As part of their bids to Poland, manufacturers are offering short-term leases of their aircraft, which will allow the Polish air force to train a cadre of pilots.

Norway may provide a preview of future fighter competitions as it makes a decision between the F-16, which it already operates, and the Typhoon. A key question is: can the latest F-16 standard hold its own against a more recent design? The Eurofighter has been selected by Greece, which also ordered more F-16s and Mirage 2000s.

The Asian economic crisis and its knock-on effects in Latin America have slowed fighter competitions in these regions. Chile, however, has restarted its fighter procurement programme and is considering the usual suspects. Brazil is considering the same three, plus the Mirage 2000.

The market for advanced trainer/light attack aircraft is as vigorous. BAe's long-dominant Hawk faces increased competition from the Czech Republic's Aero L-159, which, like the Hawk, is available in single and two-seat configurations, as well as the Aermacchi MB339, the Russian/Italian Yak/AEM-130 and the MAPO MiG-AT.

Whether there are enough competitions to keep all these in production remains a moot point. Further, it is likely that the Samsung/ Lockheed Martin KTX-2, the Dasa Mako and, potentially, the Taiwanese Ching-Kuo will all struggle to find international sales.


AAM air-to-air missile; Dasa DaimlerChrysler Aerospace; CV carrier capable; DoD US Department of Defense; ECM electronic countermeasures; ESM electronic-support measures; EW electronic warfare; FADEC full authority digital engine control; FLIR forward-looking infrared; GE General Electric; GPS global positioning system; HOTAS hands on throttle and stick; HUD head-up display; IFF identification friend or foe; INS inertial-navigation system; IR infrared; JASDF Japan Air Self-Defence Force; JASSM Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile; JDAM Joint Direct Attack Munition; JSOW Joint Standoff Weapon; JTIDS joint tactical information distribution system; LGB laser guided bomb; LO low observable; MFD multifunction display; P&W Pratt & Whitney; P&WC Pratt & Whitney Canada; RAF UK Royal Air Force RFP request for proposals; RN UK Royal Navy; R-R Rolls-Royce; RWR radar warning receiver; SAR search and rescue; STOVL short take-off vertical landing; TIALD thermal imaging airborne laser designator; USAF US Air Force; USMC US Marine Corps; USN US Navy.

Conversion factors

1hp/shp=0.745kW 1nm=1.85km 1ft=0.3m 1kN=225lb 1kt=1.85km/h 1 kg=2.2lb 1litre=0.264USgal

AERMACCHI Aermacchi, Via P Foresio 1, PO Box 101, Venegono Superiore I-21040 Italy Tel: +39 (0331) 813 111; fax: +39 (0331) 813 152;

M290TP Redigo

Aermacchi purchased the Redigo programme from Finland's Valmet in 1996 and shifted production to Italy. It continues to market the turboprop and aims to secure 25% of a basic trainer market for 400 or so aircraft to 2006.

As well as the basic side-by-side trainer, the company has outlined a maritime surveillance version with a wing-mounted radar pod, a survey aircraft and a target tug. The existing cabin has provision for two seats behind the instructor and student.

Aermacchi is believed to be negotiating a large order for the Redigo that could include license manufacture of the aircraft for the liaison, target tug and light support roles.


The Italian defence and industry ministries and Aermacchi are discussing a follow-on order of MB339CDs for the Italian air force, paid for with industry department money. Unlike a similar deal in the mid-1990s, this is likely to include support of the aircraft for up to 10 years.

Venezuela ordered eight MB339FDs, the export version of the CD, in July last year and Eritrea has six MB339CE variants, which were delivered from April 1997. The aircraft has been offered in a Greek competition for advanced trainers.

Unlike earlier MB339s, the MB339CD - the D stands for "digital" - has Sextant electronic cockpit instrumentation, HUDs in both cockpits and HOTAS controls, all linked by a 1553B digital databus. The MB339CD also has provision for a removable, non-retractable, in-flight refuelling probe on the starboard side of the fuselage just below the cockpit.

The prototype MB339 flew in August 1976, the aircraft having been designed to meet an Italian air force requirement for an advanced trainer. The service, with 90 of the trainers still in operation, is keen to upgrade at least some of the aircraft.


Efforts to find additional customers for the SIAI Marchetti S211 turbofan-powered basic trainer continue. It is being offered to Egypt, which wants 95 trainers to replace Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets.


Aermacchi continues to market both piston and turboprop versions of the former SIAI Marchetti SF260. Recent customers include Uruguay, which is due to receive the first of 12 aircraft this month, while Venezuela ordered 12 SF260TPs with 24 options in June 1998. The Italian manufacturer also has an undisclosed customer, believed to be Mexico.

The piston and turboprop versions are essentially the same aircraft from the engine firewall aft. Piston aircraft have either a direct-injection 194kW Textron Lycoming AEIO-540 engine (SF260E), or carburetted O-540 (SF260F). The turboprop SF260TP has a 260kW R-R Allison 250-B17.

AERO VODOCHODY Aero Vodochody, 250-70 Odolena Voda, Prague 250 70, Czech Republic; tel: +420 (2) 688 0041; fax: +420 (2) 6872505

L-39/L-139 Albatros

Aero Vodochody produced several versions of the basic L-39C, which was the standard trainer in the former Warsaw Pact countries from the mid-1970s onwards. As well as the tandem-seat advanced trainer, a target tug and ground attack version (L-39ZA) were also produced.

The L-139 replaced the Russian Progress AI-25TL engine with an AlliedSignal TFE731 and replaced Soviet-era avionics with AlliedSignal equipment and a Flight Visions HUD.

L-39MS/L-59 Albatros

Having replaced the L-39's Russian engine with a Western unit, Aero developed the aircraft further by once again swapping the powerplant, this time fitting the Slovak-built PSLM DV-2, and improving the avionics. A number have been delivered to the Czech air force (L-39MS) and others to the Egyptian (L-59E) and Tunisian (L-59T) air forces.

The prototype L-59 was flown in September 1986, and the first production example followed in October 1989. The L-59E was flown in April 1992, leading to deliveries between January 1993 and the end of 1994.



The L-159 programme is the Czech air force's major procurement effort before the start of its new fighter acquisition effort. The Czechs have ordered 72 aircraft in single- and two-seat versions. The first five are due for delivery in December this year.

The L-159 differs from earlier Aero products in being powered by a digitally controlled International Turbine Engine F124-100 and fitted with Boeing-integrated avionics that include AlliedSignal colour MFDs, Flight Visions mission computer and HUD, Honeywell INS/GPS and a FIAR Grifo multimode pulse-Doppler radar. Other systems include a Marconi Sky Guardian RWR and a Vinten countermeasures system.

While the two-seater is essentially a lead-in fighter/weapons trainer, the Czech air force intends to use the single-seat aircraft for close air support, counter-insurgency, anti-shipping strike, tactical reconnaissance and for air defence over point targets and against low, slow flying targets such as attack helicopters.

The single seat L-159A first flew on 18 August last year, about 12 months after the first prototype, a two-seat L-159B. The single-seater was the first aircraft fitted with the full Boeing avionics suite.

Aero started to clear the aircraft, with its intended weapons, this May. It fired AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, as well as CRV-7 and SUU-20 unguided rockets during six weeks of testing in Norway. Practice bombs were also dropped. Gun firing tests were performed closer to home at Zbrojovka, using three Czech twin-barrel 20mm gun pods.

AERONAUTICAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY/HINDUSTAN AERONAUTICS Aeronautical Development Agency, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, PB 1718, Vimanapura Post, Bangalore 560 017, India; tel: +91 (80) 523 7294; fax: +91 (80) 523 8493

Light Combat Aircraft

The first prototype of India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was rolled out in November 1995, but by July 1999 had not flown. The programme has been hampered by a US embargo following India's nuclear tests in May last year, which has blocked General Electric and Lockheed Martin from assisting in development of the aircraft.

Aircraft 1 continues to undertake taxi trials, but remains firmly on the ground because of the lack of a reliable flight control system. The Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment was working with Lockheed Martin before the embargo - and continues to work on the digital flight control computer (DFCC) in India - but were prevented from taking two DFCCs and test equipment from the USA. It is believed at least 10 DFCCs and two test sets have been built in India and that system integration continues. Lockheed Martin believes at least a year's development work remained when the embargo was imposed.

Initial LCA prototypes are powered by GE's F404-F2J3. India's Gas Turbine Research Establishment is developing the Kaveri engine for later prototypes and production aircraft.

The Indian air force requires up to 200 LCAs, which will be built by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), to replace Mikoyan MiG-21s. Materials used included aluminium-lithium, superplastically formed titanium and carbonfibre composite. The wing and fin of the compound-delta aircraft are of carbonfibre reinforced plastic.

The LCA is designed as a multirole, all-weather fighter and has a 13,000kg maximum take-off weight. The primary mission is air superiority. French manufacturer Dassault acted as consultant during the project-definition phase. A model of a naval version has been displayed.

AEROSTAR Aerostar, Str. Condorilor nr. 9, Bacau cod 5500, Romania; tel: +40 (34) 175070; fax: +40 (34) 172023; telex 21339

IAK-52 Romania's Aerostar continues to produce the venerable Yakovlev Yak-52 primary trainer, which it started manufacturing in 1977. The total production run totals almost 1,800 aircraft, the vast majority assembled for the former Soviet Union.

Flight testing of its Iak-52W has been completed. The aircraft is designed for sale to Western customers and it has the same performance as the Yak-52, but is capable of twice the range, has easier maintenance and better spares availability.

Differences from earlier aircraft include a three-bladed Mulbauer MTV-9 propeller, in place of a two-bladed unit; two auxiliary fuel tanks in the wing, which double the aircraft's fuel capacity to 280 litres and increase range from 550km to 1,200km; hydraulic disc brakes instead of pneumatic drum units; aluminium replacing fabric on the aileron, elevator and rudder skins; and replacement of the Russian-built radios with the US-supplied Garmin ICOM IC-A200.

European and US certification is planned for the third quarter of this year, followed soon after by first deliveries. Serial production begins this month and Aerostar intends to build about 30 a year over the next five years.

MiG-21 Lancer


Aerostar and Israel's Elbit are upgrading the MiG-21MF and MiG-21bis as the Lancer. A $300 million programme for the Romanian air force has equipped the aircraft with all-new cockpit avionics - including a helmet-mounted sight, Elop HUD, HOTAS and colour MFDs - new mission systems, and Elta multimode radar. The Russian-made radar altimeter, autopilot and radio compass are retained.

Around 70 MiG-21s are being upgraded for the Romanian air force, which will use the aircraft predominately for ground attack, although some are intended for air defence and have an EL/M-2032 multimode pulse-Doppler radar in place of the EL/M-2001-B radar in trainer and ground-attack aircraft.

New weapons and systems include Elta ECM, Elbit reconnaissance and Rafael laser designator pods, Western and Russian bombs, including LGBs and UB-32 unguided rockets and Python 3 IR-guided air-to-air missiles.

Aerostar acquired a MiG-21bis airframe and performed a trial upgrade based on the Romanian air force work carried out with Elbit. The upgraded aircraft was displayed at 1998's Farnborough air show and made its first flight at Bacau, Romania, on 9 October the same year.

The MiG-21bis is attractive for upgrades as it is the most numerous version of the Fishbed, with over 2,200 produced, of which most remain in service.

The type is fitted with the more powerful R-25 turbojet in place of the earlier R-13, and has a bigger dorsal fairing, with more fuel capacity and extra avionics space.

AERO INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT CENTRE (AIDC) Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation, PO Box 90008-10, Taichung 40722, Taiwan; tel: +886 (4) 252 3051/2; fax: +886 (4) 256 2282

A-1 Ching-KUO Deliveries of Taiwan's Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF) should be completed by the end of this year, having begun in early 1992. AIDC is seeking permission to export the aircraft as a lead-in fighter trainer. The majority of the 130 aircraft bought by the Taiwanese air force are single-seaters and only 28 are two-seaters.

US and Taiwanese Government permission is needed to export the aircraft. General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) was heavily involved in the airframe design, AlliedSignal is a partner in the ITEC joint venture with AIDC to supply the TFE1042-70 engine, and the GD-53 multimode radar is a variant of Lockheed Martin's APG-67. Taiwan started the design in 1982, following a US blocks on export of the F-16 and Northrop F-20s. The first flight was in May 1989 and first delivery in November 1993.

The IDF resembles the F-16, but has twin F-18C-style intakes. Like the F-16, the Ching-Kuo is also fly-by-wire and has a cockpit sidestick rather than conventional centre stick.

The aircraft is optimised for the air-defence role, but can be used for anti-ship missions. Armament includes locally developed Sky Sword 2 radar-guided AAMs and Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles.


AIDC developed the AT-3 tandem-seat twin turbofan trainer in the late 1970s. The first flight was in September 1980, with deliveries of 61 aircraft beginning in March 1994. Twenty AT-3As delivered were converted to AT-3B ground attack and maritime strike aircraft, equipped with Northrop Grumman APG-68 radar, a mission system and a weapons bay beneath the second cockpit. Development of a single-seat AT-3, with similar systems to the AT-3B, was abandoned.

AMX INTERNATIONAL AMX International, c/o Alenia, Via Faustiniana, Rome I-00131, Italy; tel: +39 (6) 52 291; fax: +39 (6) 807 2215


Venezuela's selection of the AMX in July last year for a trainer/attack requirement marks the first export of the aircraft, designed by a consortium of Brazilian and Italian companies. The Latin American country plans to acquire up to 24 AMX Advanced Trainer Attack (ATA) variants.

This version will feature upgraded avionics planned for Brazilian and Italian air force aircraft. The ATA is also being considered by the Greek air force, which has a requirement for 50 advanced trainers.

Alenia, Aermacchi and Embraer developed the AMX for the Italian and Brazilian air forces, which acquired 238 and 79 aircraft, respectively, although Brazil continues to make noises about buying further aircraft.

Italy - which used the AMX for the first time in the recent Kosovo campaign - has integrated the Paveway II LGB, with target designation provided by Panavia Tornados carrying the Thomson-CSF CLDP pod.

It plans to equip some of its AMX units for the tactical-reconnaissance role, using IR and optical sensors, data recorders and datalinks to transmit information to the ground station, as part of an upgrade that could also see replacement of the aircraft's licence-built R-R Spey engine with a non-afterburning version of the Eurojet EJ200 turbofan developed to power the Eurofighter.

Work on the AMX is divided 70:30 between Italy and Brazil, with Italy's share divided 70:30 between Alenia and Aermacchi. The AMX(T) trainer has a second cockpit, replacing the forward-fuselage fuel tank. Deliveries to Italy started in late 1990 and those to Brazil a year later.

The Brazilian manufacturer says that the AMX will remain in production until at least 2001.

AVIOANE Avioane SA Craiova, 1, Aeroportului St, Craiova R-1100 OOLJ, Romania; tel: +40 (51) 12 41 70; fax: +40 (51) 12 43 82; telex: 41290 COCOR R, IAR-93/J-22 Orao

Jointly designed in the 1970s by Romania's Avioane (then IAV Craiova) and Soko in the former Yugoslavia, the single-seat ground attack/tactical reconnaissance IAR-93/J-22 was first flown, in both countries simultaneously, in October 1974, with a similar dual maiden flight for the two-seat combat-capable trainer version taking place in January 1977.

Yugoslav J-22s were built at Soko's factory at Mostar in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which was abandoned in a damaged state in 1992. Both countries took delivery of aircraft powered by licence-built R-R Viper engines with and without afterburners.

The break-up of Yugoslavia and the fall of the Romanian communist regime ended ambitious avionics upgrade plans.

IAR-99 Soim

Romania's Soim (Hawk) is an advanced jet trainer and light-attack aircraft. In mid-1998, the Romanian Government gave the green light for a $21 million programme to upgrade 24 IAR-99 trainers with Israeli avionics.

Avioane is performing the upgrade at its Craiova factory in partnership with avionics supplier Elbit of Israel. The upgrade of all the aircraft involved is scheduled to be completed in 2001.

The upgrade is similar to that performed by Elbit and Aerostar on Romania's MiG-21s. The avionics suite includes HUD, MFDs, helmet-mounted sight, a modular multirole computer and an INS from Litton Italia, integrated with a Trimble GPS navigation system. An improved defensive aids suite includes an RWR, ECM and chaff/flare dispensers.

Elbit is also installing a "virtual radar" display. This processes navigation information transmitted by datalink from other similarly equipped aircraft, and generates a simulated radar cockpit display that allows pilots to train in the use of radar in flight, without fitting a real radar into the aircraft. Deliveries began in 1987, following a first flight in 1984, but the number of IAR-99s delivered to the Romanian air force remains unclear.

Powered by a Turbomecanica-built R-R Viper 632-41M turbojet, the aircraft can be fitted with a ventral twin-barrel 23mm gun pod and has four underwing hardpoints for loads of up to 1,250kg.

Two prototypes of an upgraded variant, the IAR-109 Swift, have been produced using basic IAR-99 airframes.

BOEING Boeing, PO Box 3999, Seattle, Washington 98124-2499, USA; tel: +1 (206) 657 1380; fax: +1 (206) 773 3900; web:


Now a Boeing product, following Rockwell's absorption by the Seattle-based manufacturer, the B-1B is receiving upgrades to improve its conventional weapons capability. The aircraft was used operationally for the first time against Iraq last year and deployed to the UK for use in Operation Allied Force against Yugoslavia. The USAF's bomber master plan to 2034 foresees spending $679 million on further upgrades of the 93 in-service B-1Bs.

The latest Block D standard aircraft made its maiden USAF mission in December 1998, when it dropped JDAMs on a range in Utah. Seven aircraft have been modified to this standard, about two years ahead of the rest of the fleet. Up to 24 JDAMs can be carried in the B-1B's internal weapons bay. Block D also includes a new defensive countermeasures system, with a towed decoy, and a new communications/navigation system.

Block C upgrades allowed the Lancer to drop cluster bombs, while Block E will allow use of the Wind-Corrected Munition Dispenser, JSOW, and JASSM and is due to become operational in 2002. Block F includes further defensive system upgrades and is scheduled for service from 2003.

The USAF is evaluating of the Lancer's flying qualities with the variable-geometry wing swept to an intermediate 45°. This should allow the B-1B to match the speed of other aircraft in a typical strike package. Currently cleared sweep angles are 15°, 25°, 55° and 67.5°.

B-52 Stratofortress

The USAF retains 76 Boeing B-52Hs in service and intends to keep updating the aircraft as part of its bomber master plan to 2034. In the short term, the aircraft will get ECM improvements, while datalink and weapons databus are slated for 2006-2010 timeframe, with an inflight mission replanning capability planned from 2015 onwards, by which time the B-52H will be over 50 years old.

It remains to be seen whether the USAF's bomber longevity plans result in the often proposed re-engining. R-R teamed with US subsidiary Allison and American Airlines has proposed swapping the eight 16,900lb-thrust P&W TF33s for four leased 43,200lb-thrust RB211-535E4s. This would increase thrust, reduce fuel consumption and improve reliability, R-R says.

B-52H armament includes the Boeing AGM-86 Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile and Lockheed Martin/Rafael AGM-142 Have Nap stand-off weapon. The latter missile was used for the first time during the Kosovo campaign.


Built by McDonnell Douglas, the F-4 remains the most prolific Western-built jet fighter and will continue to serve with several air forces for the foreseeable future.

Dasa is upgrading 38 Greek F-4Es, based on the Improved Combat Effectiveness programme for the German air force's F-4Fs in the early 1990s. The first modified F-4 flew at Dasa Manching, Germany, this May. Series-upgrade work will be carried out in Greece at Hellenic Aircraft Industries. The Peace Icarus 2000 upgrade retrofits the Raytheon APG-65 multimode radar and an Israeli Elbit modular multirole computer. Also included are colour MFDs, HUD, an INS/GPS, and new radio, IFF, air data computer and radio altimeter.

Turkey, meanwhile, has placed a $600 million 56-aircraft upgrade contract with Israel Aircraft Industries' Lahav division, which will deliver the first upgraded F-4E in the first quarter of 2000. Two prototypes are flying. Lahav will complete 27 aircraft and the Turkish air force a similar number, using Israeli-supplied kits. The programme is based on IAI Phantom 2000 upgrade for the Israeli air force.

Mitsubishi has upgraded 96 JASDF F-4EJ Phantoms. The first updated F-4EJ Kai was delivered in 1989. Improvements include a Northrop Grumman APG-66J multimode radar and other avionics upgrades.

F-15 Eagle


Failure of Boeing to win competitions this year in Greece and, more significantly, Israel, means that the F-15 production line is faced with closure early next year, when the last of 17 attrition-replacement F-15E Eagles are delivered to the USAF.

Eagles are produced into two basic forms, the F-15C/D air superiority fighter and the F-15E two-seat attack aircraft. Manufacture of the C/D has finished in the USA, with licence production by Mitsubishi of F-15CJ/DJs continuing for the JASDF.

Flight testing of an upgraded Raytheon APG-63(V)1 radar for the F-15C/D, offering improved capability, reliability and maintainability, began in 1997 and full rate production is expected to begin shortly. Other potential upgrades for the F-15 include new datalink, cockpit displays and processors.

The F-15E, and F-15I for Israel and F-15S for Saudi Arabia, are long-range interdictor/-strike aircraft that can function as air superiority fighters. The two-seater has conformal fuel tanks as standard. Typically, USAF F-15Es carry with Lockheed Martin Lantirn targeting and navigation pods. The Raytheon APG-70 radar, which offers an air-to-air capability similar to the APG-63, features a SAR mode for air-to-ground missions.

F/A-18C/D Hornet

The F/A-18C/D followed the F/A-18A/B off the production line in 1994. The C/D version is compatible with the AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided AAM and has improved mission computer and threat warning system. Initial USN F/A-18C/Ds retained the A/B's APG-65 radar, but later aircraft - and those delivered to Finland, Malaysia and Switzerland - have the improved APG-73.

From 1990 onwards, USN and USMC Hornets have been "night attack" capable, with the APG-73, Nite Hawk targeting pod and navigation FLIR pod, wide-angle HUD, colour MFDs and digital moving map display. The rear cockpit of USMC F/A-18Ds can be configured for dual control, but more usually is the home of a weapons system operator.

Boeing proposed a life extension programme for Australian and Canadian F/A-18A/Bs, as well as USN aircraft, which would replace the centre and aft fuselage and extend operational life well into the next century.

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet


The F/A-18E/F is structural upgrade of the earlier Hornet. It is about 25% larger, and equipped with new systems and a new engine, the 35% more powerful GE F414 replacing the C/D's F404. The first flight of an F/A-18E was in November 1995, followed by the initial F/A-18F flight in April the following year.

The USN has received the initial seven production aircraft and these are undergoing an 800-flight, six-month, operational evaluation (Opeval) with VX-9 at China Lake California. Boeing says the F/A-18E/F entered Opeval meeting, or exceeding, all of its key performance parameters.

Although many systems are improved, avionics are essentially the same as those of the F/A-18C/D, to reduce development costs. Boeing has issued an RFP for an active-array radar for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and plans to conduct a competition between Raytheon and Northrop Grumman to develop the active electronically scanned array (AESA). A winner is expected to be announced late this year, with work starting on company funds. Initial AESA-equipped E/F deliveries are not expected until 2005 at the earliest.

Chile is expected to be the first country to request price and availability data on the F/A-18E/F, initiating moves to release the upgraded fighter for export. Boeing is working with the USN to secure export release of the Super Hornet by the end of this year. The manufacturer would then be able to offer the aircraft in Chile, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Target export deliveries are to begin in 2005, at over $40 million apiece.

X-32 Joint Strike Fighter

Boeing was awarded a $750 million contract in November 1996 to build two Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) concept-demonstrator aircraft. Construction is well advanced and flight tests are planned next year. The X-32A will represent the conventional take-off and landing variant and will be converted later to represent the USN's CV variant. The X-32B will represent the STOVL aircraft for the USMC and UK RAF and Royal Navy. Both are powered by the P&W F119 afterburning turbofan.

Boeing announced in February this year that, although its concept demonstration aircraft will have a delta wing, its preferred weapon system concept aircraft will have a smaller swept wing and conventional tail. The change reduces weight, but was made primarily to increase pitch control and improve aircraft-carrier suitability. This was not possible with the original delta wing without decreasing LO performance. Other changes include redesign of the inlet lip from forward swept to aft swept. This reduced weight and improved high angle-of-attack performance without degrading LO performance. The twin canted vertical tails were reshaped to reduce weight.

The Boeing JSF 737 Avionics Flying Laboratory made its first flight at Wichita in March this year. The modified aircraft has avionics and instrumentation for development of the JSF.

BOEING/BRITISH AEROSPACE British Aerospace Military Aircraft & Aerostructures, Lancaster House, Farnborough Aerospace Centre, Farnborough, GU14 6YU Hants, UK; tel: +44 (1252) 373 232; fax: +44 (1252) 384 812


The T-45 is the USN's advanced jet trainer. Current production standard is the T-45C, with an upgraded digital cockpit more representative of the instrumentation students will find in front-line aircraft. Earlier T-45As will be retrofitted with the so-called Cockpit 21 from 2001.

The USN plans to buy 234 Goshawks. The aircraft is based on the BAe Hawk, but incorporate structural strengthening, carrier-compatible undercarriage, full span slats, rear fuselage airbrakes, taller fin, catapult mounting points, and arrestor hook. The Hawk's twin ventral fins were replaced by a single unit.

The T-45 was first flown in April 1988 and deliveries started in January 1992. A first carrier landing was made aboard the USS John F Kennedy in December 1991. The AlliedSignal F124 turbofan was flight tested in September 1997 as a potential alternative to the T-45's R-R Turboméca Adour.

BAe builds the wing, centre and rear fuselage, fin, tailplane, canopy and flying controls.

AV-8B Harrier II/Harrier GR5/7


Manufacture of new AV-8Bs and Harrier GR7s ended in December 1997, when the last aircraft was completed for the Italian navy. Subsequently, the US production line has been kept busy modifying 73 USMC aircraft to radar-equipped Harrier II Plus standard.

The Harrier II is a significantly different aeroplane to the earlier AV-8A/Harrier GR1/3. Although the R-R Pegasus engine is retained at the heart of the airframe, the aircraft is larger and can carry a heavier warload further.

The Harrier II Plus, also selected by the Italians and Spanish, is equipped with the Raytheon APG-65 radar, which improves air-to-ground capability for the USMC but which will also be integrated with the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile for the Italian and Spanish navies.

In the UK, the RAF's Harriers have been rebuilt to GR7 standard. UK upgrades include fitting the Marconi TIALD laser designator pod, and integration with further weapons. Like their counterparts in the USMC and the Italian and Spanish navies, RAF Harriers regularly deploy aboard navy vessels. This will increase following the introduction of the UK's Joint Force 2000, which creates a single command structure combining RAF Harrier and RN Sea Harrier units.

BRITISH AEROSPACE British Aerospace Military Aircraft & Aerostructures, Lancaster House, Farnborough Aerospace Centre, Farnborough, GU14 6YU Hants, UK; tel: +44 (1252) 373 232; fax: +44 (1252) 384 812; web:


BAe continues to develop the Hawk, as a single- and twin-seat aircraft. Competition wins in Australia, Canada (Bombardier's NATO Flying Training in Canada programme) and South Africa will see further development, such as the glass cockpit required for the Australian lead-in fighter trainer programme.

The RAF received its first tandem-seat Hawks in 1976 and BAe is performing a life extension programme, supplying new fuselages for 80 aircraft. Current export versions are the Mks 60, 100 and 200. The Mk60 is essentially an advanced trainer but, as with all Hawks, has provision for AAMs, a centreline gun pod and air-to-ground weaponry.

The Hawk 100 is used variously as an advanced trainer, a lead-in fighter trainer and a ground attack/light strike aircraft. As well as having an improved wing, a Smiths HUD/weapons aiming computer is integrated into the aircraft, along with a 1553B databus, HOTAS, RWR and the option for a FLIR or laser designator in an extended nose.

The single-seat Hawk 200 incorporates the Northrop Grumman APG-66H radar in a new nose. The radar, an RWR, Hawk 100-style cockpit avionics and other modifications allow the Hawk to be offered as a lightweight fighter for air defence, close air support, anti-shipping and tactical reconnaissance.

Sea Harrier FA2

BAe has converted the RN's 31 Sea Harrier FRS1s to FA2 standard under a £170 million ($283 million) mid-life update contract. A further 18 new FA2s have been delivered. The aircraft has a beyond-visual-range capability with the AIM-120 AMRAAM and Marconi Blue Vixen pulse-Doppler multi-mode radar. Other changes include new cockpit avionics incorporating MFDs and HOTAS controls, a fuselage extension and a slight wingspan increase.

The UK continues to study the possibility of replacing the Sea Harrier's R-R Pegasus 104 engine with the more powerful Pegasus 11-61, which is standard on the AV-8B, as part of a broader upgrade. Other modifications could include colour MFDs to reduce pilot workload following the integration of the Successor IFF - a UK programme covering all aircraft types - and the JTIDS tactical datalink, The Matra BAe ASRAAM missile will be integrated in place of the AIM-9L Sidewinder and the defensive aids suite will be upgraded.

CHENGDU AIRCRAFT (CAIC) CAC, Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Corporation, PO Box 800, Chengdu 610092, Sichuan, China; tel: +86 (28) 669 629; fax: +86 (28) 669 816; telex: 60132 CCDAC CN


Chengdu continues to develop upgraded variants of the F-7, the export version of China's J-7 (Mikoyan MiG-21). The F-7MG is the latest known variant of the type and Pakistan ordered a follow-on batch of 50 aircraft early this year. Chengdu updated the F-7MG by fitting the Marconi Super Skyranger multimode pulse-Doppler radar and Western avionics.

Current F-7s differ from earlier versions and the MiG-21 through the use of a double-delta wing. China also developed the FT-7 two-seat operational trainer.

Alenia is proposing a ±20°-scan version of the Fiar Grifo 7 radar for the F-7MG as an alternative to the Marconi unit. The new version would address the ±10° azimuth limitation of the Grifo 7 in the F-7. Pakistan plans to upgrade 100 of its F-7Ps with the new radar by next year. Problems have arisen with miniaturising the system to fit into the F-7's inlet centrebody.


The FC-1 project superseded Chengdu's Super-7 light fighter programme, intended for the Chinese and Pakistan air forces. Pakistan and China signed to a joint development and production deal for the FC-1 in July, consolidating a two-year old memorandum of understanding.

The FC-1 is to fly in 2001 and should be in service by 2005. It is being developed in a 50:50 partnership between the two countries, to meet a Pakistani light fighter requirement for 150 aircraft. Pakistan made it a pre-condition of its participation that the Chinese air force also commit to the aircraft.

Avionics are likely to be supplied by Fiar or Thomson-CSF. The winner will have to share development costs with China and Pakistan, recouping its expenditure during production. Fiar has proposed an avionics suite based around the Grifo S7 radar which was being developed for the Super 7, while Thomson-CSF is offering a system built around the RC400 multi-mode radar.

Chengdu has received design assistance from MAPO on the FC-1. The single engined aircraft will have a shoulder-mounted delta wing and a conventional horizontal tail. The engine will be fed by intakes on either side of the fuselage. The FC-1 is planned to be around 14m long, with a 9.5m wingspan. Maximum take-off weight will be 12,500kg and it will be capable of M1.8 at altitude.


Chengdu's F-10 fighter flew for the first time in March last year. The design draws heavily on that of Israel's cancelled Lavi fighter, with Israel Aircraft Industries having provided design assistance. The fighter is powered by a single Klimov RD-33 afterburning turbofan, supplied by Russia.

It is unclear whether the Chinese air force has yet selected a multimode radar. The choice is between the Israeli Elta EL/M2035, with an enlarged 680mm-diameter antenna, Russian Phazotron Zhemchoug or the China 14th Technical Research Institute's JL-10A pulse-Doppler radar, which may also include Phazotron components. Israeli and Russian companies are competing to provide the associated air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons.


In Early 1997, the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) revealed that China was in the preliminary design stage of a twin-engined multi-role fighter project. Dubbed the XXJ by the ONI, the programme may be referred to as the F-12 in China. Chengdu sources reveal that single-and two-crew configurations are being studied.

DAEWOO HEAVY INDUSTRIES Daewoo Heavy Industries, 6 Manseog-dong, Dong-gu, Inchon, South Korea; tel: +82 (32) 760 1114; fax: +82 (32) 762 1546; telex: DHILTD K 28473

KT-1 Woong Bee

Design work on the KTX-1 turboprop trainer began in 1988 and five prototypes are flying. Daewoo expects to roll out the first KT-1 production aircraft this month for delivery to the South Korean air force. An initial 85 aircraft are required, but these are likely to be followed by 20 armed aircraft for forward air control.

Daewoo had to modify the basic design because of handling shortfalls with the first prototypes. The current KT-1 is bigger, and heavier, the tail surfaces are mounted in a different position and a more powerful P&WC PT6A-62 has replaced the earlier -25 version. The aircraft can be equipped with rockets and gun pods for weapons training.

The KO-X forward air control (FAC) variant will fly in 2003, when Daewoo is anticipating an order for the 20 aircraft. Development will begin with modification of the fifth KTX-1 prototype. Deliveries will be completed in 2005. Daewoo has been reluctant to detail the armed aircraft's weapons and systems, but it will be equipped with four underwing pylons for the carriage of South Korean-produced cannon and rockets. It is expected to have the same engine as KT-1.

DASSAULT AVIATION Dassault Aviation, 9 Rond-Point des Champs-Elysees, Marcel Dassault, Paris F-75008, France; tel: +33 (1) 53 76 93 00; fax: +33 (1) 53 76 93 20; web:



Dassault is moving closer to the service introduction the Rafale, with the first flight of a production French navy aircraft last month. On the same day, a prototype Rafale M landed on France's new nuclear-powered carrier, the Charles de Gaulle. The first 12-aircraft Rafale M squadron will be formed in 2001. The French navy requires 60 Rafales, 25 of which have been ordered under 48-aircraft multiyear procurement initiative signed earlier this year.

The first production aircraft, a two-seater for the French air force, was handed over last December. Eventually, the French air force should receive 234 Rafales, about 60% of which will be two-seaters.

The Rafale is a close-coupled canard/delta aircraft. Key sensors are the Thomson-CSF Detexis RBE2 electronically scanned radar, Front Sector Optronics system and Spectra self-protection suite. The cockpit features Hotas controls, a Sextant wide angle HUD, head-level display for tactical situational awareness and a pair of colour MFDs and a helmet-mounted sight/display. Voice recognition will feature in future versions.

The aircraft is being fielded with progressively more capability as system development continues, beginning with the mainly air-to-air F1 version and leading to the fully multirole F3 standard.

Deliveries of the F2 standard Rafales are due to begin in 2003. This introduces a significant air-to-ground capability, with provision for the Matra BAe Scalp long-range stand-off weapon, and the shorter-range A2SM. The F2 version will also introduce the Front Sector Optronics, MIDS tactical datalink and improvements to the RBE2 radar and self-defence systems.

With the fully developed F3, the radar will be capable of terrain following at the same time as it scans the sky for potential threats. The Rafale has 14 hardpoints (13 on the Rafale M), five of which are designed for external tanks and heavy ordnance. All aircraft are equipped with the Defa 30mm cannon. Its principal AAM is the Matra BAe Mica, equipped with an active radar seeker and, later, an IR seeker still under development.

Naval Rafales have a strengthened undercarriage, arrestor hook and catapult points for carrier operations and a strengthened fuselage. The Rafale M's greater weight and the limited capability of the Charles de Gaulle catapult will leave it with less range than its air force equivalent, at around 1,850km radius of action in the air-to-air role or 1,300km on "hi-lo-lo-hi" strike missions. A fully loaded aircraft will be catapulted off the deck weighing 19.5t against 21.5t for the land-based aircraft.

Mirage 2000


The current export version of the Mirage 2000 is the -5MkII, which is essentially the same as the 2000-9 developed for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company has orders for 30 -9s and will upgrade the UAE's earlier Mirage 2000s to the same standard. Greece kicked off sales of the 2000-5MkII when it ordered 15 aircraft this May, for delivery in 2001.

Like the Mirage 2000-5, the -5MkII/9 has the Thomson-CSF Detexis RDY multimode pulse-Doppler radar in place of the original RDM unit. The -5MkII/9 also have full air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities. A Hotas and colour MFD-equipped cockpit, integrated countermeasures suite and multifunction datalink are also part of the package. UAE -9s will have larger cockpit displays and new INS.

Matra BAe Mica air-to-air missiles can be carried under the fuselage, which allows the underwing hardpoints to be used for more fuel - which, in turn, can double the type's air-to-air mission range.

Mirage 2000-5MkII/9s have a night attack capability using a Thomson Optronics Nahar navigation FLIR coupled with the Damocles (also known as Shehab) targeting pod. The UAE has also paid for the development of new weapons during the last decade, including the Marconi Al Hakim LGB and Matra/BAe Black Shaheen 250km-range cruise missile.

Earlier versions of the aircraft developed for the French air force include the 2000C fighter, 2000B two-seat equivalent to the 2000C, nuclear-strike 2000N and conventional strike 2000D. Earlier export multirole versions were designated 2000Es.

Mirage F1

Production of the Mirage F1 ended in 1989, but upgrades continue and Dassault is refurbishing Morocco's F1s, while other companies also offer upgrades for the only non-delta Mirage. Before retiring the type, the South African Air Force fitted two test aircraft with Russian Klimov RD-33 engines.

Super Etendard

Although approaching the twilight of its carrier life, Super Etendard carrier-based strike fighters continue to receive upgrades to enable the French navy to participate in international coalition operations. Recent improvements include a Thomson-CSF self-protection system that includes a Barem jammer pod and Sherloc radar-warning receiver. The Super Etendard can carry the Aerospatiale ASMP nuclear stand-off missile and has been given a reconnaissance capability, allowing it finally to replace all of the French navy's Etendard IV, the aircraft it was originally to replaced when it entered service in the late 1970s.

DASSAULT/DORNIER Dassault/Dornier, 9 Rond-Point des Champs-Elysees, Marcel Dassault, Paris F-75008, France; tel: +33 (1) 53 76 93 00; fax: +33 (1) 53 76 93 20; Web

Alpha Jet The Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet first flew in October 1973. It was designed for the French air force, which took 176 between 1978 and 1985, and the German air force, which took 175 between 1979 and 1983. Egypt assembled 37 Alpha Jets between 1982 and 1985. To keep the aircraft in service, France is studying an upgrade. As no funding is available until 2002, no deliveries will take place until then. A new HUD and MFDs would be fitted. An earlier proposal, the Alpha Jet 3, foundered, as fully digitising the aircraft and fitting a modern communications suite was considered too expensive.

Germany has retired its Alpha Jets and continues to look for customers for them. Thailand is the most recent nation to express an interest in the aircraft, which are being offered at a knock-down price as they require significant work to return them to airworthiness.

Six versions of the Franco/German Alpha Jet were built or offered, but only two were successful. The advanced trainer/light attack Alpha Jet E was produced for the French air force and several export customers, including Egypt. German air force aircraft were Alpha Jet As, optimised for the light attack role, although they were also used for weapons training.

EMBRAER Embraer, Avenue Brigadeiro Faria Lima 2170, Sao Jose dos Campos, 12227-901, Brazil; tel: +55 (12) 345 1000; fax: +55 (12) 321 8238; web:

EMB-312 Tucano

Production of the EMB-312 turboprop trainer is coming to a close as the type makes way for the stretched, more powerful, EMB-314 Super Tucano. Around 650 Tucanos have been built, and the final aircraft, for the French air force, incorporate increased fatigue life, French avionics, propeller and canopy de-icing and a ventral airbrake.

Between 1987 and 1993, Shorts of Belfast built 130 Tucanos for the RAF, as well as export aircraft for Kenya and Kuwait. Modifications included replacement of the P&WC PT6A with the 820kW AlliedSignal TPE331, strengthening of the canopy and other modifications that reduced commonality with the Brazilian aircraft to 20%. Egypt built Brazilian-standard Tucanos under licence.

EMB-314 Super Tucano/AL-X


The Super Tucano is being bought by the Brazilian air force in two-seat trainer and single-seat light attack versions.

The EMB-314 owes its existence to work done developing the Shorts Tucano and the EMB-312H entry in the US Joint Primary Aircrew Training System contest, and to the Brazilian air force's need for a border surveillance aircraft, the AL-X, capable of intercepting the general aviation aircraft used by drug smugglers. Embraer believes there is a market for 200 EMB-314s/AL-Xs.

The first aircraft was modified from a standard Tucano by lengthening the fuselage, fitting a new wing housing two 12mm machine guns, enlarging the tail and replacing the earlier P&WC PT6A with a 930kW PT6A-68 driving a Harztell five-blade propeller. The canopy has also been modified. Weapons can be carried on four wing hardpoints and a single ventral station.

The first flight of the modified EMB-312H was in May 1996. The first production AL-X was rolled out this May.

The cockpit has also been redesigned, with two night vision-compatible colour MFDs replacing the earlier instrumentation. Controls are HOTAS configured and the aircraft has an Elbit mission system. Other systems are an engine indication and crew alerting system, an embedded GPS/INS, radar altimeter, data recorder, Mode S transponder, DME, VOR, instrument landing system, emergency locator transmitter, dual ADF and a dual VHF radios.

The AL-X, designated A-29 in Brazilian air force service, is fitted with a FLIR turret, RWR, missile approach warning system and a chaff/flare dispenser.

The Brazilian air force has ordered 99 AL-Xs. Forty-nine A-29 single-seaters will be used for daytime policing of the Amazon, 20 AT-29 two-seaters will provide night cover and another 30 of the twin-stick version will be used for training, replacing licence-built EMB326 Xavante jet trainers.

ENAER ENAER, Empresa Nacional de Aeronßutica de Chile, Avenida Jose Miguel Carrera 11087 P36.5, Santiago, Chile; tel: +56 (2) 528 2599; fax: +56 (2 )528 2815

T-35 Pillan

ENAER continues efforts to find a customer for an improved version of the Pillan basic trainer, dubbed the Pillan 2000. The original T-35 is powered by a 224kW Textron Lycoming IO-540 piston engine, while a re-engined version has been flown, powered by a 312kW R-R Allison 250 turboprop. Original Pillan design work was performed by Piper, using the wing of the Saratoga as the aircraft's basis. A Piper-built prototype first flew in March 1981, and deliveries of Enaer-built aircraft to the Chilean air force started in August 1995.

EUROFIGHTER Eurofighter, Jagflugzeung Am SaIdermoos 17, Hallbergmoos, Munich D-85399, Germany; tel: +49 (89) 607 20141; fax: +49 (89) 607 20145; web:

Eurofighter Typhoon


In February last year, the four Eurofighter partner nations - Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK - signed an umbrella contract covering production of 620 Eurofighter multirole fighters. A fixed price contract for an initial batch of 148 aircraft followed last September. As well as rapidly moving towards initial deliveries to partner nations in 2001, Eurofighter is preparing to export the aircraft, having been selected by Greece early this year. Norway is evaluating the aircraft against the F-16.

The Eurofighter, which is a long-coupled canard/delta aircraft, has cleared about 90% of its initial operational capability (IOC) flight envelope. The four partner companies - Alenia, BAe, CASA and Dasa - are building five instrumented production-standard aircraft to join the seven prototypes to complete flight testing.

The first Eurofighters will be delivered in IOC air-defence configuration from 2002, but multirole full operational capability (FOC) is scheduled to be cleared within 18 months of deliveries beginning.

The main sensors are the ECR90 mechanically scanned radar, an IR search and track system mounted just ahead of the cockpit, and wingtip mounted passive ESM pods. The agile antenna of the ECR90 allows interleaved air-to-surface and air-to-air operation.

The cockpit is dominated by the wide-angle HUD and three colour MFDs. The aircraft also features direct voice input to control certain aspects of the flight, a helmet-mounted display/sight and HOTAS controls.

Most of the air-to-ground functionality will come with the FOC aircraft from 2004. This will include Doppler beam-sharpened radar ground mapping for navigation and targeting, and synthetic-aperture radar ground imaging for reconnaissance, as well as air-to-ground weapons such as the Matra BAe Storm Shadow and the German/Swedish KEPD350.

The defensive aids subsystem integrates ESM and ECM with missile and laser warners. As well as traditional chaff and flare dispensers under the wing, towed decoys are housed in wingtip pods. Completing the sensor suite is the MIDS tactical datalink.

Air-to-air weapons planned for the Typhoon include the short-range ASRAAM and IRIS-T, while, in the beyond visual range arena, a European Matra BAe-led team is battling it out with Raytheon to offer competing long-range missiles. Aircraft are fitted with the AMRAAM for flight trials and IOC.

Fuji Heavy Industries Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru Building 7-2, 1-chome, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160, Japan; tel: +81 (3) 3347 2525; fax+81 (3) 3347 2588.


Last year, the JASDF selected the Fuji T-7 to replace the company's T-3 basic trainer. The first two aircraft are scheduled to be delivered next year, followed by 48 more over the next 10 years.

Fuji's tandem-seat T-7 is an updated T-3 Kai, powered by a new 298kW R-R Allison 250 turboprop. The aircraft also has external modifications to the cowling, tail and wing.

A prototype has been test flown by modifying a T-3 Kai and has won its airworthiness certificate.


The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force uses the T-5 as a primary trainer. The aircraft, with a further two seats, can also be used as a utility transport.

The T-5 is a development of the Fuji KM-2, with an R-R Allison 250 turboprop, updated avionics and a blister canopy to improve visibility. The aircraft first flew in 1988.

HINDUSTAN AERONAUTICS Hindustan Aeronautics, 15/1 Cubbon Road, PO Box 5150, 560 001 Bangalore, India; tel: +91 (80) 2866 701; fax: +91 (80) 286 7140. Kiran II

The Kiran II was an improved derivative of the Kiran I jet trainer, with a strengthened wing having four hardpoints for a variety of stores, and two nose-mounted machine guns. An R-R Orpheus turbojet replaced the R-R Viper II fitted to the Kiran I, first flown in 1964. The Kiran II first flew in July 1976, but deliveries to the Indian air force did not start until April 1985. Production was completed in March 1989.


India has given the go-ahead for development of the HJT-36 jet trainer, to replace the air force's Kiran basic trainers. HAL has received Rs1.8 billion ($42 million) for two prototypes, flight test and certification. First flight is planned for late 2002, with service entry two years later.

More than 200 HJT-36s are required at a fly-away cost of Rs180-190 million an aircraft. Compared to the Kiran, the tandem-seat HJT-36 will be lighter and will have fewer components, improved fuel consumption and enhanced reliability and maintainability.

The engine and avionics selections have yet to be made. Powerplant competitors are the 3,970lb-thrust R-R Viper 632 and 4,360lb-thrust Viper 680 turbojets, and the 3,170lb-thrust Snecma/TurbomÄca Larzac 04, with 3,500lb-thrust AlliedSignal TFE731 turbofans. Marconi Avionics of the UK, Israel's Elop and France's Sextant Avionique are offering avionics and other systems.

ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES (IAI) IAI, Israel Aircraft Industries, Ben-Gurion International Airport, 70100, Israel; tel: +972 (3) 935 3111; fax: +972 (3) 935 4162.


Israel continues to market surplus Kfir fighters. Recent customers have included Colombia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka. The latest standard is the Kfir 2000/C-10, with the Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar and other avionics and systems from the cancelled Israeli Lavi fighter.


IAI offers upgrades of the F-4 Phantom (see Boeing entry) and Mirage models. It has proposed replacing the Snecma Atar engine of the Mirage III/V/50 with a GE F404. All the upgrades derive from worked carried out for the Israeli air force.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Kawasaki Heavy Industries, World Trade Centre Building, 4-1, Hamamatsu-cho 2-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105, Japan; tel: +81 (3) 3435 2111; fax+81 (3) 3436 3037; web:


Kawasaki developed the T-4 advanced jet trainer as a replacement for Lockheed T-33 trainers operated by the JASDF. The high-wing, twin-engined trainer first flew in July 1985 and deliveries began last September. The JASDF has ordered around 200 of the tandem-seat aircraft.

LOCKHEED MARTIN Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, 1011 Lockheed Way, Palmdale, California 93599, USA; tel: +1 (805) 572 4158; fax: +1 (805) 572 4163; web:

Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, PO Box 748, Fort Worth, Texas 76101, USA; tel: +1 (817) 777 2000; fax: +1 (817) 763 4797; web:

F-16 Fighting Falcon


The F-16 has won additional orders from Egypt (24 aircraft), Greece (58) and Israel (50) so far this year.

While Egypt's order was for Block 40 aircraft similar to those previously ordered, the other two nations ordered Block 50+ F-16s with significant changes over earlier purchases, such as conformal tanks (both countries), Northrop Grumman APG-68(V)X synthetic aperture radar (Israel), colour MFDs and modular mission computers (both).

The United Arab Emirates continues to negotiate a contract for Block 60 F-16C/Ds with active-array radar, internally mounted navigation and targeting IR sensors, upgraded cockpit displays, uprated engine and conformal long-range fuel tanks.

Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, has established generic F-16 export configurations in an attempt to reduce the aircraft's cost. Packaging popular features into a common core configuration reduces engineering costs. The Viper 2000 configuration is based on the improved Block 50+ and the Viper 2100 is based on the advanced Block 60, Norway is being offered both configurations in a competition against the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The USAF's current F-16C/D production version is a improved Block 50, which includes some upgrades developed for the European F-16A/B Mid Life Update programme (MLU), including colour displays, modular mission computer and digital terrain system.

The USAF has launched a $1 billion programme to upgrade 700 in-service Block 40 and 50 F-16C/Ds to a common hardware and software configuration, with many elements common with the F-16A/B MLU. Flight tests are planned for 2001 and the upgrade is to be completed by 2005.

Four European operators - Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway - began upgrading 343 F-16A/Bs in 1996 under the MLU programme, which includes the Block 50 cockpit and an improved Northrop Grumman APG-66 radar capable of guiding the AIM-120 beyond-visual-range AAM. MLU elements are included in the 150 F-16A/Bs being built for Taiwan, deliveries of which began in 1997.

The F-16 was first flown in February 1974, and over 4,000 have been sold, making the aircraft the most successful jet fighter in production and second only in popularity to the F-4 in the Western world.

F-117 Nighthawk

A navigation system upgrade is under way on USAF F-117A stealth fighters, to keep them in service beyond 2015. The F-117A was first flown in June 1981, and 59 were built by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

LOCKHEED MARTIN AIRCRAFT ARGENTINA Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina SA, Avenida Fuerza Aerea Argentina 5500, Cordoba 5010, Argentina; tel: +54 (51) 651 706; fax: +54 (51) 690 698; telex: 51965 AMCOR AR


Lockheed Martin took over operation of Argentina's FMA plant from the air force as part of a deal to upgrade 36 ex-USMC McDonnell Douglas A-4Ms for the Argentine air force.

The upgraded A-4AR incorporates a Northrop Grumman APG-66 multimode radar, dubbed the ARG-1; improved cockpit with head-up and multifunction displays; RWR and chaff/flare dispenser; and overhauled and upgraded P&W J58 engine. Deliveries of the aircraft to the air force began in late 1997.

Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina plans to pursue opportunities to overhaul and upgrade McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks acquired by Bolivia and Brazil.

FMA previously produced the IA-56 Pucara ground-attack aircraft and the IA-63 Pampa jet trainer. Efforts are continuing to secure a launch order to restart production of an upgraded IA-63.

Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina also hopes to participate in a proposed upgrade of the Argentine air force's Dassault Mirages and Lockheed Martin C-130s.

LOCKHEED MARTIN/BOEING Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Sector, 6801 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20817, USA; tel: +1 (301) 897 6000; fax: +1 (301) 897 6083; web:

F-22 Raptor


Procurement of the F-22 had another barrier thrown in the way when, in late July, the US House of Representatives voted to withhold $1.8 billion for production of the first six aircraft. The number of F-22s to be bought by the USAF had already been cut from 442 to 339 by the US Department of Defense's 1997 Quadrenniel Defence Review.

The aircraft continues to achieve flight test milestones, including demonstrating "supercruise", sustaining speeds of Mach 1.5+ without afterburner. Accomplishment of supercruise marks the achievement of three of the five major tasks set by the US Defense Acquisition Board for the F-22 task force to achieve by the end of this year, as condition for approving low rate initial production.

The other two targets met include envelope expansion to 55,000ft and the opening of side and main weapons bays at supersonic speeds. Remaining milestones are use of thrust vectoring at high angle of attack, and expansion of the high speed envelope. Operational tests have been integrated into the aircraft's initial developmental testing phase at Edwards AFB, California. Members of the fighter evaluation team at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Edwards have joined the F-22 Combined Test Force.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing are also studying what needs to be done to expand the F-22's multirole capabilities, mainly through software changes. The team is looking at 31 different precision-guided weapon scenarios. The Raptor is planned to enter service at the end of 2005, with a secondary air-to-ground capability. The basic Block 4 aircraft will be able to carry two 450kg JDAMs internally.

An expanded multirole capability could not be incorporated on the F-22 until at least production Block 5 aircraft, scheduled for delivery from 2006 onwards. The aircraft's main armament is four or six medium-range AIM-120 AAMs, two short-range AIM-9 AAMs and a 20mm cannon.

LOCKHEED MARTIN/NORTHROP GRUMMAN/BAE Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Sector, 6801 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20817, USA; tel: +1 (301) 897 6000; fax: +1 (301) 897 6083; web: X-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Lockheed Martin received a contract in November 1996 to build two Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) concept demonstrator aircraft (CDAs), to be flight tested next year.

Joining with Northrop Grumman and BAe, the team is assembling the CDAs at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

The Lockheed Martin JSF resembles a scaled-down single-engined F-22 Raptor. Unlike the Boeing submission, which uses a three-post jet thrust STOVL system, the X-35 has an R-R Allison-developed shaft-driven lift fan coupled to the main engine, which provides a flow of cold air balanced by an R-R-supplied three-bearing vectoring nozzle on the rear of the single P&W F119 engine.

Originally, the team was to build the X-35A as a conventional take-off and landing variant for the USAF before converting it to a carrier-capable CV variant for the USN. The X-35B would have been built as the STOVL variant for the USMC and the UK.

To save costs, however, the X-35A will still emerge as the USAF version, but will be converted to the STOVL aircraft. The X-35B will be built as the USN aircraft, with larger wing and tail surfaces designed to provide carrier suitability.

MAPO Moscow Aircraft Production Organisation MIG, 71st Botkinsky Drive, Moscow 125040, Russia; tel: +7 (095) 252 8283; fax: +7 (095) 250 0770

MiG-21 Fishbed

The MiG-21 was built in greater numbers than any other jet fighter and many remain in service worldwide. Romanian MiGs are being upgraded by Aerostar (see entry) and Israel's Elbit, while Israel Aircraft Industries also offers modernisation programmes.

The largest modernisation programme is a $300 million deal covering 125 Indian air force Fishbeds, which being upgraded by MAPO and the Russian Sokol manufacturing plant in Nizhny Novgorod.

The first flight of MAPO's improved MiG-21-93 was on 6 October, 1998, from the Sokol plant. So far during trials, Vympel R-73 (AA-11 Archer) IR short-range and R-77 (AA-12 Adder) active-radar medium-range missiles have been fired.

The project has progressed slowly following contract signature in 1996, because of financial wrangling between India and Russian suppliers. India even approached Israel for assistance with the programme, but was refused, as it would have competed with Israel's MiG-21 upgrade projects. India's Hindustan Aeronautics will undertake the series refitting of the MiG-21s, using Russian-supplied kits. Two prototypes will be produced in Russia.

The upgraded aircraft has a Phazotron Kopyo lightweight multimode radar, an Elta electronic warfare system, a Sextant navigation system, comprising a Totem ring laser gyro and embedded GPS, and a liquid crystal display unit. As well as an improved air-to-air capability, the new radar gives the MiG-21-93 an enhanced attack capability.

MiG-23/27 Flogger

Hindustan Aeronautics completed production of MiG-27Ms for the Indian air force in 1997, bringing to a close manufacture of the variable geometry, single-engined Flogger. Some firms have possible upgrade options for the Russian-built MiG-23/27, but these appear to have come to nothing.

MiG-25 Foxbat

Most MiG-25 Foxbats have been withdrawn from Russian service, although a limited number of late-model reconnaissance and defence-suppression aircraft have been retained. The MiG-25BM Foxbat P defence-suppression variant entered service in the late 1980s, armed with 40km-range AS-11 Kilter anti-radar missiles. In 1980, a MiG-25PD Foxbat E modified interceptor entered service, with a limited look-down capability.

MiG-29 Fulcrum

MiG-29s sold to Malaysia in the mid-1990s have undergone an upgrade programme which gives them multi-target acquisition capabilities as well as in-flight refuelling capability. Dasa has upgraded German air force MiG-29s and has won an order to do the same work for the Polish air force. Much of this involves replacing Soviet standard equipment with Western equivalents to allow the aircraft to inter-operate with NATO counterparts. Hungary is considering a similar programme.

The Russian air force plans to upgrade more than 200 early-model Fulcrums to MiG-29SMT standard, which includes a strengthened airframe with a dorsal hump for extra fuel, new avionics, Zhuk radar with air-to-ground modes and the capability for laser and television guided munitions. The basic MiG-29A has no capability for air-to-ground missions beyond unguided rockets and iron bombs. The MiG-29SMT is also equipped with an updated cockpit. MAPO has tried to entice the Indian air force with a similar upgrade.

Other variants in the Fulcrum family include the MiG-29SE, MiG-29SM and MiG-29SD, as well as the carrier-compatible MiG-29K.


The MiG-31M Foxhound B upgrade programme has effectively ended, with only six prototypes built. At least two aircraft remain at the Ahktubinsk air base in southern Russia and may be used as development test aircraft for the radar and weapon systems. Two examples of an anti-satellite MiG-31M were also produced. The basic Foxhound remains in service with the Russian air-defence forces.

Article 1.42/1.44

MAPO said at this year's Paris air show that it intends to fly the 1.44 prototype of the 1.42/MFI stealth fighter this year. The aircraft missed its original deadline of early March, announced in mid-January when MAPO and the Russian authorities unveiled the fighter to a select audience.

The 1.44 has all-moving foreplanes with a "dogtooth" on the leading edge; a large mid-mounted delta wing with a straight leading edge; and outwardly inclined fins which extend vertically beneath the wing plane aand have upper and lower rudders. Large angled air intakes are located under the nose.

The MFI's intended powerplants are two thrust-vectoring Lyulka AL-41s, which would give the 1.44 non-afterburning supersonic cruise speed and a greater range than the Sukhoi Su-27, claims MAPO. Engines have been test-flown on a Tupolev Tu-16 and in MiG-25s, reaching 1,080kt and a ceiling of more than 65,500ft.

The 30t-class airframe, widely using composite materials, is claimed to have a low radar cross-section. Curiously for an aircraft claimed to have stealth characteristics, despite MAPO's claims of internal weapon carriage for the aircraft, the 1.44 has a prominent external stores pylon under each wing. The fuselage shape and size suggest that the 1.44 could have a large internal fuel capacity.

Article 1.44 - which has not received government funding for five years - is a technology and airframe/propulsion concept demonstrator, rather than a weapon systems prototype, of the Article 1.42, originally conceived in the 1980s as Russia's next-generation fighter.

The intended weapon system, originally designated NO-14, was to be based on a fifth-generation pulse-Doppler radar with electronic beam steering, capable of tracking more than 20 targets simultaneously. But development of the system is thought to have been halted, and the 1.44 does not appear to have a real radome. Russian newspapers claim an estimated $70 million flyaway cost for the aircraft.


MAPO is competing with Yakovlev for the Russian air force's requirement to replace Aero L-39 jet trainers. Its MiG-AT is a two-seat, twin turbofan, advanced jet trainer. The prototype rolled out in May 1995 and flew in March 1997.

France is heavily involved in the programme, with Snecma Turboméca providing the Larzac engine and Sextant the avionics. The aircraft is fly-by-wire and has a limited light strike capability. MAPO has outlined plans for dedicated combat trainer and single seat light attack versions of the MiG-AT.


MAPO has begun work on a fifth-generation lightweight fighter, the LFI, to supersede its MiG-29-class aircraft. Single- and twin-engined designs are being considered for an aircraft on the 20t class. This project is often referred to as the Russian equivalent as the US Joint Strike Fighter programme.

MITSUBISHI Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, 5-1 Marunouchi 2-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan; tel: + 81 (3) 3212 3111; fax: + 81 (3) 3212 9860; web:



Formerly known as the FS-X, the F-2 is a Mitsubishi-developed derivative of the Lockheed Martin F-16, powered by the GE F110-129. The aircraft first flew in October 1995, and four prototypes are in flight test. Production deliveries are due to start next year, against a requirement for 130 aircraft to replace the JASDF's Mitsubishi F-1 support fighters.

The Mitsubishi F-2A/B programme has run into development problems with the discovery of cracks in the wing during static testing by the Japan Defence Agency's Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI).

TRDI flight testing of four XF-2A/B prototypes had already slipped by nine months as a result of earlier cracks found close to the wingtip, along with excessive pylon flutter. The discovery of more fractures less than 12 months after the initial crack occurrence is being viewed "seriously". Earlier delays pushed back the end of XF-2 flight testing to next March, but the first two production F-2s are due for delivery this October. The first operational squadron was scheduled to have been formed at Misawa AB by next March.

The F-16 was selected in 1987 as the basis of the FS-X project. Changes include a 25% bigger composite wing and a larger nose radome housing an indigenously developed active array radar. As well as fulfilling air defence and ground attack missions, the aircraft is also earmarked for the anti-shipping role carrying both the ASM-1 and ASM-2 anti-ship missiles.

Project costs have risen significantly, with the aircraft now three to four times as costly as a basic F-16. Unit costs for initial production aircraft are estimated at around $100 million each.

Along with Mitsubishi, Fuji and Kawasaki are involved with the project as airframe subcontractors. Japan plans to acquire 83 single-seat F-2As and 47 two-seat F-2B operational trainers.

NANCHANG AIRCRAFT (NAMC) Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company, PO Box 5001-506, Nanchang, 330024 Jiangxi, China; tel: +86 (791) 846 8401; fax+86 (791) 845 1491 A-5 Fantan

Developed from the J-6 (Chinese-built Mikoyan MiG-19), the Q-5 attack aircraft was first flown in 1965 and remains in limited production for the Chinese air force.

The aircraft has a redesigned front fuselage and shoulder intakes, while fuselage length and wingspan are extended. The aircraft is known as the A-5 for export, and has been delivered to Bangladesh, Burma, North Korea and Pakistan.

Upgrade programmes with Alenia and France fell into abeyance without producing operational aircraft. Current production aircraft have greater range and payload than the original, and modern systems such as RWRs.

K-8 Karakorum

NAMC And Pakistan Aeronautical Complex are developing the K-8 basic trainer/light attack aircraft. Pakistan has received six AlliedSignal TFE731-powered aircraft, but will not buy more until the Chinese air force makes a commitment. China, in turn, refuses to buy the aircraft until it is re-engined with the Russian Progress AI-25. Egypt is being offered the AlliedSignal-powered aircraft as a trainer.

The straight-wing tandem-seat K-8 first flew in November 1990 and Pakistan received six aircraft in September 1994, initially for evaluation purposes. When armed, the Karakorum can carry a 23mm cannon pod under the centre fuselage. Two hardpoints under each wing can be used for bombs, rockets and the Chinese PL-7 short range, IR-guided air-to-air missile.

NORTHROP GRUMMAN Northrop Grumman, 1840 Century Park East, Los Angeles, California 90067-2199, USA; tel: +1 (310) 553 6262; fax: +1 (310) 201 3023; web:

A-10 Thunderbolt II

Northrop took over responsibility for support of the former Fairchild A-10 in 1987. Five hundred aircraft remain in USAF service.

B-2 Spirit

The B-2 stealth bomber was declared operational in April 1997 with delivery of the thirteenth aircraft to the USAF. It was used for the first time during the Kosovo crisis, when raids were launched from the home base of White AFB, Missouri. The six B-2s that took part dropped more than 454,000kg of GPS-guided munitions, mostly JDAMs.

All 21 B-2s are due to be upgraded to Block 30 standard by next July. Two new and some modified Block 30 aircraft have been delivered, with the rest undergoing modification at Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, California, B-2 plant. The upgrade takes 18 months to two years, depending on the original standard of aircraft.

The DoD says full operational capability will be achieved within the $44.3 billion programme cost estimate, but extra funding will be required to improve maintainability of the B-2's LO features and to buy portable shelters to protect the aircraft during deployments.

EA-6B Prowler

Although EA-6B production ceased in 1991, the aircraft has received continual upgrades as it is the USA's only dedicated electronic warfare aircraft capable of penetrating hostile airspace with strike packages.

A proposal to re-open production is being considered to bolster the fleet of 123 aircraft, of which around 105 are active at any one time. Most production tooling is intact at the St Augustine, Florida, plant where new wings are being produced for 20 aircraft removed from storage. Prowlers are being upgraded to Improved Capability (ICAP) III standard - adding reactive jamming capability and installing new controls and displays - to be completed in 2004. Current EA-6Bs are being updated to Block 89A standard, with improved computer, communications, navigation and electronic flight instruments.

F-5 Tiger II

Production of the F-5E/F ended in 1987, but several upgrade programmes are under way. Northrop Grumman began flight tests of a Tiger IV in April 1995, marketing the upgraded F-5E as a lead-in trainer for the Lockheed Martin F-16, but has yet to secure a customer.

Numerous other companies, including Bristol Aerospace, Elbit, Israel Aircraft Industries, Lockheed Martin, Singapore Technologies Aerospace, offer F-5 upgrades with various avionics manufacturers. The air forces of Brazil, Singapore, and Turkey have all committed to F-5 upgrades.

F-14 Tomcat

The F-14 remains the mainstay of the USN's air superiority fleet, but the aircraft has been adapted in recent years with an increasing air-to-ground role. As part of the role expansion, the navy ordered 86 LANTIRN targeting pods. Other recent changes include the retrofitting of a Marconi digital flight-control system to improve handling characteristics.

The F-14 was first flown in January 1969 and 557 F-14As were built by Grumman, including 79 for Iran; 56 USN aircraft were re-engined with General Electric F110s and redesignated F-14Bs, and are now receiving an avionics upgrade. A further 37 F-14Ds, with F110s and digital avionics, were produced.

T-38 Talon

The USAF has launched a series of initiatives to keep the T-38 trainer in service until 2025, with the option of extending service to 2040, by which time the aircraft will be 81 years old.

Upgrades include a Boeing-led programme to install a HUD, MFDs, GPS/INS and traffic alert and collision avoidance system. The first aircraft with the new systems flew in July last year. The USAF has also awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to complete design of a new wingbox, with a view to rewinging the entire fleet. In the meantime, production of an earlier standard wing has restarted.

PANAVIA AIRCRAFT Panavia Aircraft, Airport Business Centre, Am Soldermoos 17, Hallbergmoos, D-85399, Germany; tel: +49 (811) 80 1238/9; fax: +49 (811) 80 1386


Production of the Tornado ended last October, with the delivery of the 992nd aircraft. The three partner nations, Germany, Italy and the UK, continue to upgrade the aircraft for service use to at least 2015.

Upgrade of 142 RAF GR1/1A/1Bs to Tornado GR4 standard continues at BAe's Warton factory. Changes include a large MFD for the pilot, a Marconi FLIR installed beneath the forward fuselage, which displays an image on the new HUD, INS/GPS navigation system, Terprom terrain reference navigation, along with changes to the EW and weapons capabilities. It will later include a change to HOTAS controls.

RAF Tornado F3s are undergoing the Capability Sustainment Programme, which equips the aircraft for the ASRAAM and AMRAAM missiles, JTIDS and Successor IFF.

German and Italian aircraft are receiving broadly similar upgrades as part of their mid-life improvement programmes. Included in the updates are changes to the computer and databus, compatibility with Rafael Litening targeting pod and the installation of enhanced EW equipment.

PILATUS Pilatus Aircraft, Flugzeugwerke Stans, CH-6371, Switzerland; tel: +41 (41) 619 6111; fax: +41( 41) 619 6224; web: PC-7/PC-7MkII/PC-9

Pilatus continues to offer its family of turboprop trainers, which, since 1997, have been built using modular fuselages. The major difference is engine power, the PC-7 being the lower-powered aircraft.

PAKISTAN AERONAUTICAL COMPLEX (PAC) Kamara, District Attock, Pakistan; tel: +92 (51) 584 212; fax: +92 (51) 583 837

Mushshak and Super Mushshak

PAC took over production of the MFI-17 Supporter from Saab, starting with construction from Swedish-supplied kits.

The current offering is the Super Mushshak, powered by a more powerful, 194kW, Textron Lycoming IO-540, replacing the earlier 149kW IO-360.

PZL PZL, 39-300 Mielec ul. Wojska Polskiego 3, Mielec, Rzeszow PL-39-300, Poland; tel: +48 (17) 7887819; fax: +48 (17) 7887226

M-93/M-96 Iryda

THE M-93 and M-96 are developments of the I-22, an aircraft which ran into serious problems. Changes included new airbrakes, Sextant-supplied avionics, modified systems and equipment and new engines - initially, as the M-93K, Polish K-15 engines rated at 3,300lb thrust. A similar aircraft intended for export, the M-93V, was fitted with the R-R Viper 545 with the same rating.

The M-96 introduced further aerodynamic improvements, including leading-edge slats, Fowler flaps, leading-edge root extensions, a revised taller fin and Sextant Topflight avionics. The M-96 has K-15 engines. A two-seat reconnaissance/close air-support derivative of the aircraft is also on offer.

PZL-130 Orlik

The PZL-130 is a tandem-seat turboprop trainer originally developed to meet Polish air force requirements. The Polish aircraft has a revised tail, with a large ventral fin, and is fitted with the Walter M601 turboprop. An export version is offered with the P&WC PT6A.

The aircraft has six hardpoints under the wing for stores carriage. Machine-gun pods and small bombs can be carried, either for weapons training or for counter-insurgency operations.



Raytheon Aircraft, 10511 E Central, PO Box 85, Wichita, Kansas 67201-0085, USA; tel: +1 316 676 8674; fax: +1 316 676 5687;

T-6 Texan II

Raytheon won the US Air Force/Navy Joint Primary Aircraft Training System competition in 1995, with a development of the Pilatus PC-9, later renamed the T-6A Texan. The aircraft differs from its Swiss forebear by having a strengthened fuselage, pressurised cockpit, digital avionics, GPS navigation, traffic alert and collision avoidance system and provision for a HUD. The USAF and USN have ordered 69 of a planned 712 Texan's and the type has been ordered for the Nato Flying Training in Canada programme and by Greece. The first USAF aircraft was handed over early this year.



SAAB Saab Aircraft, Linkoping, SE-581 88, Sweden, Tel:+46 13 18 00 00; fax: + 46 13 18 18 02; web:

JAS39 Gripen


The Gripen has won its first export customer, having been selected by South Africa late last year. The aircraft achieved initial operating capacity with the Swedish air force in September 1997. Sweden has ordered 190 single-seat JAS39As and 28 JAS39Bs two-seaters, the first of which was delivered last year.

Saab and BAe are working collaboratively on a Gripen export variant, selected by South Africa and offered to Chile and several East European countries. The Swedish defence ministry is also looking at future upgrades to the Gripen including thrust-vectoring, an active-array radar and an IR search and track sensor.

SAMSUNG/LOCKHEED MARTIN Samsung Aerospace Industries, Samsung Life Bldg, 15th Floor Sung-Won Building, 141 Samsung-dong, Seoul 135-716, South Korea; tel: +82 (2) 3467 7000; fax: +82 (2) 3467 7080; web: KTX-2

Samsung and Lockheed Martin completed the preliminary design review for the KTX-2 advanced trainer/light combat aircraft in July. The supersonic aircraft is being designed to replace Lockheed T-33As and Cessna T-37Cs. The South Korean air force requires 94 aircraft, and has options on another 100 light combat versions to replace F-5s. Other team members include Daewoo and Korean Air.

Flight testing of the single-engined, tandem cockpit KTX-2 is due to start in June 2002, with deliveries to the South Korean air force following in late 2003.

The GE F404 engine and Lockheed Martin APG-67 radar are among equipment already selected for the KTX-2.

SEPECAT Sepecat, Zone Aeronautique Louis Breguet, PO Box 12, Velizy, Villacoublay, F-78140, France; tel: +33 (4 )741 7921



Hindustan Aeronautics continues to deliver licence-built Jaguars to the Indian air force. The RAF, meanwhile, continues progressive upgrades of its Jaguars, which are expected to remain in service until at least 2008.

RAF improvements include upgraded engines, TERPROM terrain reference navigation, new secure radios, TIALD targeting pod , a helmet mounted sight, and ASRAAMs.

SHENYANG Shenyang Aircraft, No.1 Lingbei Street, Huanggu District, Shenyang 110034, Liaoning, China Tel:+86 24 689 6680; fax: +86 24 689 6689; web:


The F-8 Finback is once again the focus of a major upgrade programme, with Russian radar manufacturer Phazotron and missile supplier Vympel involved in the F-8 IIM project, unveiled in October 1995.

A prototype first flew in 1996. Changes include a new cockpit with HOTAS controls and a more powerful engine.

The F-8II remains in production for the Chinese air force, replacing the F-8I in front-line units. The F-8IIM was originally intended primarily for export, although the Chinese air force may also purchase the aircraft.

SOCATA Socata, Le Terminal Bat 413, Aeroport du Bourget, Zone d'Aviation d'Affaires, F-93352, France, Tel:+33 1 49 34 69 69; fax +33 1 49 34 69 71; web:

Socata is offering the single-turboprop TBM 700 as the basis of a multi-mission aircraft covering a variety of military and paramilitary tasks, including maritime surveillance, target towing, ECM and medical evacuation designs. The French armed forces have ordered 25. The Socata Epsilon, meanwhile, is a two-seat piston-powered trainer that can be fitted with four underwing hardpoints for stores carriage to perform weapons training tasks. SUKHOI Sukhoi, Sukhoi Design Bureau, 23A Polikarpov Street, Moscow 125284, Russia; tel: +7 (095) 945 65 25; fax: +7 (095) 200 42 43

Su-25 Frogfoot

The latest version of the Su-25, the Su-25TM (Su-39) now under development, is a further modification of the Su-25T. Several prototype Su-25TMs have been completed. These are believed to be modified Su-25Ts, 12 of which were built. One Su-25TM is being used for Kopyo-25 radar trials at the Ahktubinsk test centre. The radar is carried in a pod under the fuselage centreline. Sukhoi has also considered modifying the nose to accommodate a radar.

Su-27 Flanker

China has received 50 Su-27s, delivered in two batches, and has started licence production of the aircraft as the SAC J-11. The Russian navy's carrier air arm is equipped with Su-27Ks (T-10Ks), with movable foreplanes, folding wing and tailplane, strengthened landing gear and an arrestor hook. These aircraft provide the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier with air defence, although, without radar modifications, they cannot be used in the maritime-strike role. Su-27SK export derivatives have an air-to-ground capability.

Su-27M (Su-35)

Sukhoi's Su-27M programme was intended as a mid-life update of the basic Flanker. The most recent prototype to be shown publicly, aircraft 711, is fitted with thrust-vectoring nozzles. The Russian air force has failed so far to order the Su-27M and the pace of development has been leisurely. At least two pre-production models are located at the Russian air force's Ahktubinsk test centre. The Su-27M is intended to be fitted with an NIIP phased-array radar.


The Su-30 project was initiated to develop a two-seat fighter-controller aircraft capable of handing off targets to Su-27 interceptors via a datalink. The Su-30 was designed for the Soviet air-defence forces, and a handful of aircraft has delivered.

Eight Su-30s have been delivered to India in the first stage of the country's four-phase Su-30MKI programme. The full MKI specification, with thrust-vectoring and a phased- array radar, is more akin to the thrust-vectoring variant of the Su-27M than the basic Su-30. China has ordered a similar aircraft as the Su-30MKK.

Su-27IB (Su-34/Su-32FN/Su-33KUB)

The Sukhoi Su-27IB, the two-seat, side-by-side, strike variant of the Flanker interceptor, was first exhibited at Minsk in February 1992. At least six aircraft are being flown, with more under construction. The airframe is also likely to form the basis of both the Su-27R reconnaissance and Su-27IBP fighter-bomber/escort-jammer projects.

The similar Su-33KUB made its first flight from Zhukovsky on 29 April last year. This has been designed as a side-by-side combat capable trainer version of the naval Flanker, but is reported to be the basis for a family of multirole naval aircraft for fleet defence, attack, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and, possibly, airborne early warning radar missions. All roles will require two crew.

Although the cockpit is similar to that of the Su-27IB strike aircraft, the nose has a circular, rather than flattened oval, cross section and houses a Phazotron N-014 radar similar to that of the Su-35/37. An IR search and track sensor is placed ahead of the windscreen centre.


Sukhoi flew the prototype of a canard/forward swept wing fighter in September 1997. Development of the S-32 may have been carried out under the auspices of a technology-demonstrator project, rather than as a fighter development project for the Russian air force.

With the Mikoyan-designed Article 1.42 reduced to a demonstrator project, should it ever fly, Sukhoi is pushing its S-32 Berkut as a candidate to meet any future Russian air force fighter requirement.


Sukhoi has been working for over two decades on an intermediate-range bomber design. The T-60S, the latest iteration of this design, is an 80-100t-class aircraft.


Sukhoi continues to pursue the S-54 advanced jet trainer design, as well as the S-55 lightweight fighter version. They resemble a scaled-down Su-27 with foreplanes.

TUPOLEV Tupolev Joint Stock Company, 17 Akademika Tupoleva, Moscow 111250, Russia; tel: +7 (095) 267 2533; fax: +7 (095) 261 7141


The Bear remains in service with the Russian armed forces as both a long-range strike aircraft and a maritime-patrol and reconnaissance platform, some 45 years after the first prototype flew. The Tu-95MS/MS6/MS16 remain a key component of the air force's long range aviation units. The aircraft are equipped with the Kh-55 (AS-15 Kent) air-launched cruise missile.

The four-turboprop Bear is intended to be equipped with two Raduga conventional cruise-missile types now in the final stages of development - the Kh-101 and Kh-SD.

The Tu-142 ASW aircraft first flew in 1968 and continues to be deployed with naval aviation units. The Tu-142MR is a dedicated submarine communications variant.


Alongside the Bear, the Tu-22M will continue to form the backbone of Russia's long-range strike capability beyond 2010. The latest variant of the Tu-22, the M3, entered service with both air force and naval aviation units in the early to mid-1980s.

As with the Bear, the Tu-22M is also earmarked to carry the Kh-SD and Kh-101 cruise missiles. Tupolev is also working on an avionics and systems upgrade for the aircraft, although funding is likely to be problematic.

A further modification, the Tu-22MR, has been seen at the Ahktubinsk test centre. The aircraft carries a semi-recessed pod located in the bomb bay and has a large dielectric fairing at the root of the vertical fin along with dielectric fairings on the fuselage.


The future of the Tu-160 Blackjack as part of the air force's long-range strike force is in question. Only a token force of five aircraft is operational and there is pressure to withdraw the aircraft from service.

The Tu-160 flew for the first time in 1981, and was intended to provide the air force with a long-range supersonic strike aircraft. Production has amounted to no more than about 40-50, including pre-production and prototype aircraft. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, up to 19 Blackjacks were left in Ukraine.

YAKOVLEV/AERMACCHI Yakovlev Design Bureau, 68 Leningradsky Prospekt, Moscow 125315, Russia; tel: +7 (095) 157 17 34; fax: +7 (095) 157 47 26



Yakovlev continues to compete with MAPO for the Russian air force's trainer requirement, with the twin-turbofan Yak-130. The Russian company has also teamed with Italian manufacturer Aermacchi to offer a variant for export, designated the AEM-130. Having modified the winglet design of the Yak-130 light-attack/advanced jet trainer after flight tests revealed they were deforming during flight, they have been replaced with large inboard wing fences at the junction of the leading-edge root extension and mainplane. Aermacchi is pressing on with plans for certification by 2003 of a "westernised" version, with a pre-production aircraft set to fly in 2001.

Source: Flight International