Military jet trainer (specifically Italian/Israeli one): what does it have/not have?

What makes a great jet trainer, especially one so specialized as the Italian Alenia Aermacchi M-336, now being delivered to Israel in a huge transaction.

For Israel and the industry, it was a momentous choice back when between that one and a South Korean jet (sorry, no cite). Obviously contract terms and politics come into play, but what technologically might have influenced the Israelis?

More generally, what is a trainer jet qua jet?

::And thank you for allowing me the opportunity to to use the word “qua.”::

Exactly that. An aircraft that trains pilots on how to fly jet aircraft. Typically from what I have read pilots learn to fly on prop planes and then move onto jets. A trainer helps the transition.

Here is a summary of the decision-making process by which the Israelis picked the M-346 over the Korean T-50.

Officially, the Italian aircraft had ‘higher performance’. In any large-scale military procurement of this nature, political considerations tend to play a part, and that may have influenced the selection process. Certainly the Koreans tried to lean hard on the Israelis to take their offering.

Regarding the second question, jet trainers are used for advanced-level training of pilot candidates for fast jets. The trainers have most of the performance, and the handling characteristics, of the front-line aircraft for which the pilots are being trained, at lower costs for flight time and maintenance. Not to mention the extra seat for the instructor. Many trainers of this type can be armed and used as light ground attack aircraft if needed.

Which is an important consideration when your frontline aircraft may be extremely expensive (or extremely needed at the front line). Also, not all frontline fighters these days are easily adaptable to a two-seater “trainer” version.

An important consideration for a force like Israel’s, who would want to maximize the number of aircraft that can be fitted for actual battle use. Some smaller air forces who can’t afford or don’t need current-make (or even fresh secondhand) air-superiority fighters but could use a decent CAS equipment or something with which to escort a hijacked airliner go right ahead and use the “armed trainers” for that, and makers like BAe and Aermacchi have offered dedicated combat versions.

The US current intermediate-advanced jet trainers, OTOH – Navy’s Goshawk and Air Force Talon – are not combat capable (Talon not armed at all, Goshawk merely for practice rounds).

All you need for a trainer is an instructor’s seat and good performance. You don’t need to deliver ten tons of ordnance to a target a thousand miles away. Nor do you need the most advanced avionics, triple-redundancy for every system, the latest stealth technology, or any of the other bells and whistles you want on front-line fighters. So why pay for all of that capability and put it in the hands of your least experienced pilots?

Each M-346 costs $33 million ($1 billion for 30 total planes). For comparison, Israel is also planning to purchase the F-35 for $160-$200 million each (figures seem to vary in the first few news articles I found.)

I’m always struck by how fucking adorable trainer jets are. They’ve got a double-sized cockpit, tiny lil’ intakes, and stubby wings, just like a baby fighter jet should.

The Hawker Siddeley Hawk trainers the British bought had a rudimentary warlike capability and in the event that the Soviets crossed the Inner German Border they would have been bombed up and sent off on Operation ‘Certain Death’ to do what damage they could (led by a warplane as they had no suitable radar and no air-to-air missile capability at all)

A rather sad thought - the Red Arrows flying off to their doom :frowning:

Sometimes there are some other toys too. I’ve flown the L-39 Albatross, and the rear instructor’s cockpit has extra controls that the front seat doesn’t. As in, the instructor can actually fail various items on the student.

A few other trainers from that part of the world have that too - the MiG-15 two-seater and the Yak-52 come to mind.

Both of these trainers are combat-capable, as light fighters.
Check Wiki for details, but yeah.

I couldn’t find an earlier trainer used in Israel, but the Tzukit, a (presumably) hopped-up Fouga Magister, saw action. Per Wiki:

The Israeli Air Force operated a license-manufactured version, the IAI Tzukit. While principally a trainer, it was used in the 1967 Six Day War by 147 Squadron as a close support aircraft, attacking targets on the Egyptian front during the first day of the war, when Israel’s more capable combat aircraft were deployed on Operation Focus against Arab air bases.[5] They were then deployed against Jordanian forces, including armour, on the West Bank. The Magister proved effective at the close-support mission albeit with heavy casualties, with six being lost.[6]

And elsewhere in El Salvador (same cite):

9 former Israeli and 3 French Magisters were acquired by the Salvadoran Air Force and used as both trainers and ground attack aircraft in the Salvadoran Civil War using bombs and nose-mounted 7.62mm machine guns. None are recorded as being lost to enemy fire, but only five were in operational condition by the end of the war.[7]

IIRC they used the A4 Skyhawk as a trainer.

Yes, Skyhawks came in a trainer version, that the Israelis and the USN/USMC used both as strike fighters AND as advanced-level trainers.