Alenia Aermacchi and the Italian Air Force celebrate today the AMX 200,000 flying hours, a total of which includes both operational and test flight hours (2,200) since 1984, the date of the first flight of the prototype of the tactical support aircraft jointly developed by the then Aeritalia (46,5%), Aermacchi (23,8%) and the Brazilian Embraer (29,7%).
The AMX, nicknamed Ghibli in the Italian Air Force, is a light-attack and reconnaissance single-engine aircraft produced in Italy and Brazil according to specifications issued in 1981 by the Italian and Brazilian Air Forces to replace the G.91Y in Italy and provide the Brazilian FAB with a new tactical aircraft (which they call the A-1) to join the F-5s and the Mirage IIIEs operating at the time as interceptors in Brazil.
Six prototypes where manufactured (one was lost in an accident), 136 examples (110 single and 26 twin-seat, these last called the AMX-T) were ordered by the Italian Air Force and 56 were ordered by Brazil. All aircraft were delivered starting from 1988.
The AMX operated in Kosovo, Libya and they are still successfully operating in Afghanistan where, since November 2009, they have been flying over 7,000 hours thus proving their efficacy, low operational cost and perfect adaptability to very diverse scenarios from those they were intended for.
In 2012, Alenia Aermacchi completed the AMX ACOL update programme (Upgrade of Operational and Logistic Capabilities – Adeguamento delle Capacità Operative e Logistiche) re-delivering 52 upgraded aircraft (42 single and 10 twin-seat) to the Italian Air Force.
The ACOL programme envisaged the introduction of an inertial/GPS navigation system (EGI- Embedded GPS/Inertial) and the integration of a GPS-guided precision armament. Furthermore, on 42 single-seat aircraft, improvements in the communication and friend and foe identification systems (New Generation Identification Friend or Foe) were also introduced together with the Night Vision Google (NVG) capability.
In order to properly support these new operating capabilities, a modern multi-function colour display and a more powerful computer symbol generator (CSG) were integrated in the cabin.
Alenia Aermacchi and ItAF’s Reparto Sperimentale di Volo (Experimental Flight Department) collaborate daily with the equipment suppliers, with Selex ES participating as the main supplier of the avionics which distinguishes this AMX new version ACOL.
In Brazil, the A1-M upgrade programme is currently on-going, with the aim of updating the FAB’s AMX fleet to keep them operational at least up to 2032.
Source / Author / Photo: Alenia Aermacchi