The AMX fighter-bomber aircraft is in service with the air forces of Brazil, Italy and Venezuela. The first AMX aircraft was delivered to the Italian Air Force in January 1989 and to the Brazilian Air Force in 1990. Production involved assembly lines in Italy and Brazil. In total, 192 aircraft, 155 single-seater and 37 AMX-T two-seater, have been delivered to Italy (110 AMX, 26 AMX-T) and Brazil (79 AMX, 15 AMX-T)
"The AMX fighter-bomber aircraft is in service with the air forces of Brazil, Italy and Venezuela."
The AMX programme originated from a requirement of the Italian Air Force for single-seater and two-seater combat aircraft for surface attack missions. In 1982 a memorandum of understanding was signed by Italy and Brazil and the joint development and production programme was subsequently conducted by AMX Consortium, based in Rome, through the Italian companies Alenia Aerospazio, now Alenia Aeronautica, (46.5%) and Aermacchi (23.8%) and the Brazilian company Embraer (29.7%).
The main role of the AMX is ground attack in visual and marginal weather conditions, with primary roles in long range strike and air interdiction, close air support, reconnaissance and armed patrol. The aircraft is also highly effective in air defence missions and the lead-in fighter role. Italian Air Force AMX fighters were deployed as part of the NATO forces in Operation Allied Force against Serbia in 1999.
In December 2002, the Venezuelan Air Force signed a contract with Embraer for 12 AMX-T. However, the USA blocked the transfer of US-built components and the order was cancelled.
In August 2004, the Brazilian Air Force signed a contract with Embraer for a mid-life update of 53 single seat (designated A-1A) and two-seat (A-1B) aircraft. The programme failed to receive funding, but in August 2007, Embraer received the first of three prototype aircraft to be upgraded. Flight testing is due to begin in 2009 with first delivery in 2010. The upgrade includes three new multifunction colour displays, head-up display, night vision goggle compatibility and new communications and navigation suite. Elbit of Israel is the lead contractor.
In February 2005, the Italian Air Force selected Alenia Aeronautica to upgrade 55 AMX aircraft with new avionics, including INS/GPS navigation system, new communications systems and IFF (Interrogation Friend or Foe), new displays and the addition of a capability to deploy smart munitions such as the Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). First flight of the upgraded aircraft was in September 2005 and the first upgraded aircraft was delivered in March 2007.
Alenia manufactures the central section of the fuselage, the nose radome, the ailerons and spoilers and the tail surfaces. Aermacchi is responsible for the forward fuselage, the integration of the gun and avionics, the canopy, and the tailbone. Embraer is responsible for the air intakes, the wings, the leading edge slats and flaps. Embraer is also responsible for the wing pylons, the external fuel tanks and the reconnaissance pallets. Final assembly is carried out in both Italy and Brazil.
The AMX Advanced Trainer Attack (AMX-ATA) is a new AMX two-seater, multi-mission attack fighter for combat roles and advanced training. The AMX-ATA incorporates new sensors, a forward looking infrared, helmet-mounted display, a new multi-mode radar for anti-air and anti-ship capability, and new weapon systems including anti-ship missiles and medium-range missiles.
The Venezuelan Air Force ordered eight AMX-ATA in 1999 for the advanced trainer and attack aircraft role.
The AMX's computerised weapon aiming and delivery system, supplied by Alenia, includes the radar and the stores management system.
"The main role of the AMX is ground attack in visual and marginal weather conditions."
The AMX can carry external loads up to 3,800kg. The aircraft has seven hardpoints: one on the centreline of the underside of the fuselage, two hardpoints under each wing and wingtip rails on each wing.
The aircraft can carry air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, free-fall bombs, retarded bombs, laser-guided bombs, cluster bombs, precision-guided munitions and rocket launchers.
Italian Air Force AMX aircraft have been equipped with GBU-12 bombs, fitted with the Opher imaging infrared terminal guidance kits supplied by Elbit of Israel. The wingtip launchrails can carry the AIM-9L infrared guided Sidewinder air-to-air missile, or the Orbita MAA-1 Piranha air-to-air missile.
Italian AF AMX are being armed with Lizard laser-guided bombs from Elbit. The bombs have 500lb mk82 warheads. The US JDAM Joint Direct Attack Munition is also being fitted on the Italian AMX.
The Italian aircraft are armed with the M61A1 multibarrel cannon with 350 rounds of 20mm ammunition installed in the port lower side of the fuselage. The Brazilian Air Force AMX is armed with two DEFA 554 30mm cannon, installed one on each side of the fuselage.
The aircraft is equipped with an active and passive electronic countermeasures system supplied by Elettronica. The radar warning receiver is mounted in the tail fin.
The pressurised and air-conditioned cockpit is fitted with a Mark 10L zero ejection seat developed by Martin-Baker, based in Uxbridge, UK. The cockpit's environmental control system is supplied by Microtecnia. The single-piece wrap-around windscreen and single-piece canopy give the pilot a very clear view of the airspace and also a forward-downward view of 18° over the nose. The cockpit is Vight Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible.
The cockpit is equipped with an Opto Mechanik, Inc. and Alenia head-up display and an Alenia multifunction head-down digital data display.
The avionics systems are pallet mounted for fast and efficient access for service and maintenance. The modularity of the systems allows alternative or upgraded systems to be installed.
The aircraft is equipped with UHF and VHF communications and an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator.
The Italian Air Force AMXs are equipped with a variant of the EL/M-20001B radar, operating at I band. Fiar in Italy manufactures the radar, which is designed by Elta in Israel. The AMX in operation with the Brazilian Air Force is equipped with the Fiar / Tectelcom SCP/01 radar. Venezuelan AF planes are expected to be fitted with Elta EL/M-2032 radar.
The aircraft retains its normal level of self-defence and attack capabilities when it is equipped for reconnaissance missions. The camera bay, just forward of the mainwheel bay on the starboard side, can hold the pallet-mounted photographic reconnaissance systems supplied by Aeroeletronica of Brazil.
"The AMX is powered by the Rolls-Royce Spey Mark 807 non-afterburn turbofan engine."
An electro-optical infrared pod can be carried on the pylon on the centreline of the fuselage. For reconnaissance and battle damage assessment, the electro-optical and infrared system is being equipped with digital recording and a data link.
A number of AMX aircraft in service with the Italian Air Force have been fitted with the Oude Delft reconnaissance pod.
The aircraft is powered by the Rolls-Royce Spey Mark 807 non-afterburn turbofan engine, which develops 49.1kN. The engines are built under a licensed manufacturing agreement by Alfa Romeo Avio, Fiat and Piaggio in Italy, and by Companhia Electro-Macanica in Brazil. A Fiat FA 150 Argo auxiliary power unit is used for starting the engine.
The aircraft carries 3,500l of fuel in internal tanks, which gives a mission attack radius of typically 550km with a five-minute combat time over the target area. The internal tanks are self-sealing rubber bag tanks in the fuselage and two integral wing tanks.