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AMX International AMX (Ghibli) Multirole / Light Strike Aircraft / Advanced Trainer (1990)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 5/4/2009

The AMX International was a consortium project handled by Italian and Brazilian aircraft design firms.

The AMX International AMX is the result of cooperation between two Italian (Aeritalia - now Alenia - and Aermacchi) and one Brazilian (Embraer) aircraft firms. Development of the system began with just the two Italian companies in 1978, when the Italian Air Force put forth a requirement for a multi-role advanced aircraft platform with additional reconnaissance capabilities. This requirement was seen as a rightful replacement for Italy's aging fleet of Lockheed F-104 Starfighters and Aeritalia G.91 aircraft. Determined to fulfill this requirement with an all-indigenous fighter design, Aermacchi and Aeritalia set to work on the AMX. Coming in 1980 with a similar requirement all their own, the Brazilian firm of Embraer joined the fray. The resulting AMX International AMX would become a highly-capable aircraft that is oft-overlooked in the Pantheon of modern fighters.

The AMX program developed the first flying prototype by 1984, this first one for Italian trials with the Brazilian prototype released a year later. The major difference between the two platforms lay in their avionics packages which showed the customizability afforded to the AMX system as a whole - making for one enticing export model to the willing buyer. The initial order of 272 aircraft was later cut to 136 due to budgetary constraints to defenses in both countries. Nevertheless, production continued with little in the way of developmental setbacks. Official production aircraft entered service by 1988 and the system was fielded in frontline units by 1990. Production of the AMX series broke down with Alenia (Aeritalia) handling up to 46.7% whilst Embraer took 29.7% and Aermacchi 23.6%. Final production would be handled in their respective countries.

Superficially, the AMX International AMX appears to be a micronized Dassault Mirage F1, with high-mounted monoplane wings, twin intakes and a single engine exhaust under the single tail rudder. Crew accommodations vary with model and can either be a single pilot or pilot and rear-cockpit operator in tandem. The latter serves well the purpose of strike or training. Standard armament varies little between the Italian and the Brazilian models, with the Italian version receiving a single 20mm General Electric cannon and the Brazilian version being fielded with twin 30mm DEFA cannons. Four underwing hardpoints, a centerline hardpoint and wingtip hardpoints all add to the lethality and versatility of this little machine. Wingtip mounts are reserved for short-range air-to-air missiles but other hardpoints can carry ordnance in the form of missiles, bombs, rocket pods, fuel tanks and reconnaissance pods and designators.

The AMX series of aircraft under the Italian banner saw extensive - and often overlooked- service in the war against Serbia in Operation Allied Force, accounting for over 250 sorties all its own. The system was fielded with advanced Israeli Elbit Opher imaging infra-red guided bombs that proved to be as advertised. Among other ordnance fielded by the Italian AMX International AMX were Mk 82, Mk 83 and Mk 84 conventional bombs to go along with the Paveway II laser-guided bombs.

In all, the AMX International AMX is quite a worthy adversary produced astoundingly by a consortium of different aircraft firms on different continents. Export orders have amounted to Venezuelan interest in the light strike derivative though one might expect more to roll in during the lifespan of the aircraft. Agile, adaptable and versatile, the AMX International AMX is quite the bundle for the budget-minded multirole fighter/bomber shopper.

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Specifications for the
AMX International AMX (Ghibli)
Multirole / Light Strike Aircraft / Advanced Trainer

Focus Model: AMX International AMX (Ghibli)
Country of Origin: Brazil
Manufacturer: Aeritalia (Alenia) & Aermacchi - Italy / EMBRAER - Brazil
Initial Year of Service: 1990
Production: 136

Crew: 1

Length: 43.41 ft (13.23 m)
Width: 29.10 ft (8.87 m)
Height: 14.93ft (4.55 m)
Weight (Empty): 14,837 lb (6,730 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 28,660 lb (13,000 kg)

Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 807 non-afterburning turbofan engine generating 11,030lbs of thrust.

Maximum Speed: 651 mph (1,047kmh; 565 kts)
Maximum Range: 345 miles (556km)
Service Ceiling: 42,651 ft (13,000 m; 8.1 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 10,250 feet per minute (3,124 m/min)

Hardpoints: 7 (including wingtip mounts)
Armament Suite:
1 x 20mm General Electric GE M61A1 Vulcan cannon (Italian AMX)
2 x 30mm DEFA cannons (Brazilian AMX)

Mission-Specific Ordnance can include any of the following:

AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (wingtip mounted)
MAA-1 Piranha air-to-air-missiles (wingtip mounted)
Mk 82 bombs
Mk 83 bombs
Mk 84 bombs
Paveway II Laser-Guided Munitions
Rocket Pods
Cluster Bombs
Skyshark Munition Dispenser
Elbit Opher imaging infra-red guided bomb
Oude Delft Orpheus reconnaissance pod
CDLP laser-designator pod

AMX - Base Series Designation

AMX-ATA (Advanced Trainer Attack) - Tandem-Seat Model fitted with Elbit avionics package.

AMX-E - Tandem-Seat HARM-Capable Model; "Escort Jammer" model based on the AMX-T.

AMX-MLU - Mid-Life Update Model; fitted with redesigned radar system; FLIR capable; improved avionics package; NVG cockpit.

AMX-T - Based on the AMX-ATA model; fitted with Elbit avionics; digital cockpit.

A-1 - Brazilian Series Designation

A-1B - Brazilian Production Model

TA-1 - Brazilian Production Model

Italy, Venezuela and Brazil.