Airbus seeks partners for its advanced jet trainer project

Airbus trainer jet France Germany
Aibus Future Jet Trainer (AFJT) concept.

On February 4, representatives of the Spanish defense and Airbus met to discuss some topics involving industry and the military, including the extension of the AFJT (Aibus Future Jet Trainer) project to other countries.

With reference to the last topic, their plan is to establish cooperation with France and Germany on the future Spanish-made advanced trainer aircraft. According to them, a feasibility study is currently being prepared to be submitted to the two potential partners.

While France will soon have to replace its Alpha Jets to cover the LIFT phase of pilot training, Germany has been sending its students to train at Sheppard Air Base, United States, for over 60 years. The presence of the Germans overseas is deeply rooted, the great training strategy of the Luftwaffe has laid the foundations for the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) program.

This is the reason why, compared to France, Germany's involvement appears to be more complex as it is not clear how it can reconcile the introduction of a new jet with the NATO program. The student pilots in the last phase at the ENJJPT are currently flying the T-38 Talon which, as known, will be replaced by the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk.

On the other hand, France may be more interested in the project as it needs to introduce a new trainer and is historically more likely to do business with Spain than with other countries such as Italy. We mention Italy as the M-346 would be the ideal replacement for the Alpha Jet, but Paris does not seem to be interested in a deal with Leonardo.

The good relations between France and Spain are evidenced by the recent acquisitions by Paris of the Airbus A330 tanker aircraft and their alliance in the FCAS (Future Combat Air System) project, together with Germany.

Development times will most likely make the difference, although Airbus plans to fly its new jet within 5 years, its entry into service could take at least twice as long and the Alpha Jet is nearing sunset.

The same goes for the Spanish F-5s, but probably, to benefit the domestic manufacturer, the Spanish Air Force will find a way to extend the life of its jets pending the arrival of the AFJT.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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