Military aircraft serve only one customer, the Ministry or Department of Defense of the nation that designed the aircraft. Frontline combat aircraft incorporate the newest technologies at the cutting edge to stay ahead of potential adversaries. Development costs are high and only a few countries can afford to produce advanced designs. International political scenarios indicate a strong demand for combat aircraft, even for developing nations that must purchase them from abroad. Therefore, military aircraft design philosophy is different than civil aircraft design. Here, designers and scientists have a strong voice, unlike in civil design in which the users dictate the requirements. Selling combat aircraft to restricted foreign countries is one way to recover investment costs.
Once a combat aircraft performance is well understood over years of operation, consequent modifications follow capability improvements. Subsequently, a new design replaces an older design – there is a generation gap between the designs. Military modifications for the derivative design are substantial. Derivative designs primarily result from revised combat capabilities with newer types of armament, along with all around performance gains. There is also a need for modifications – perceived as variants rather than derivatives – to sell to foreign customers. These variants are substantially different than civil aircraft variants.
AJT designs have variants that serve as combat aircraft in CAS. AJTs are less critical in design philosophy compared with frontline combat aircraft, but they bear some similarity. Typically, an AJT has one variant in the CAS role produced simultaneously. There is less restriction to export these types of aircraft.
The military infrastructure layout influences aircraft design; here, the LCC is the primary economic consideration. For military trainer aircraft designs, it is best to have a training base located near the armament practice arena to save time. A dedicated training base may not have a runway as long as a major civil runway. This is reflected in the user specifications necessary for beginning a conceptual study. The training mission includes aerobatics and flying with onboard instruments for navigation; therefore, the training base should be located far from the civil airline corridors.
The AJT sizing point in Figure 11.5 shows a wing-loading, W/SW = 58 lb/ft2, and a thrust-loading, T/W = 0.55, which is a significant margin, especially for the landing requirements. The AJT can achieve a maximum level speed over Mach 0.88, but this is not demanded as a requirement. Mission weight for the AJT varies substantially; the NTC is at 4,800 kg and, for armament practice, it is loaded to 6,600 kg. The margin in the sizing graph encompasses an increase in loadings (the specification used in this book is for the NTC only). There is a major demand for higher power for the CAS variant. The choice of an uprated engine or an AB depends on the engine and the mission profile.
Competition for military aircraft sales is not as critical compared to the civil – aviation sector. The national demand supports the production of a tailor-made design with manageable economics. However, the trainer-aircraft market has competition – unfortunately, it is sometimes influenced by other factors that may fail to result in a national product, even if the nation has the capability. For example, the Brazilian design Tucano was re-engined and underwent massive modifications by Short Brothers of Belfast for the United Kingdom, RAF, and the BAe Hawk (UK) underwent major modifications in the United States for domestic use.