Airbus unveils new training and light combat aircraft for Spain

Guillermo Pis Gonzalez

Airbus Defense & Space revealed a new tailor-made project for Spain, the Airbus Future Jet Trainer (AFJT). It could eventually be used to train pilots on the sixth-generation European fighter jets.

Until now, the Ejército del Aire, the Spanish Air Force, was using the F-5M Tiger and C-101 Aviojet to train its fighter pilots. But the fleet of trainers is now aging, and the time for a replacement has come. Thus, Airbus presented a new aircraft, which will be “designed by and for Spain.”

The Spanish Air Force recently acquired the Pilatus PC-21 for the initial training of its fighter pilots. The AFJT will be used for the later training phases. The proposed project is a single-engine supersonic jet. The platform should be modular, meaning that it could also be used as a light attack aircraft. 

Interestingly enough, the AFJT could contribute to the transformation and training of pilots on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), the Franco-German fighter jet program that Spain has joined. Among the Spanish companies already identified by Airbus to take part in the project, Indra was selected for onboard systems and simulators. As a reminder, it is the same company that Spain chose as its main industrial participant in the FCAS program.

While only Spain expressed interest in the trainer, France and Germany could eventually be included in the program. “For the three countries to participate would mean dividing development costs among the three, in addition to being able to access funding from the European Union,” explained the local media FlyNews, referring to the recently-created European Defense Fund.

The trainer should enter service by 2027-2028 if the project is approved by the Spanish authorities.

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