This month, the AMX ground attack jet commemorates 30 years since its first flight and rollout in Brazil. The Embraer Historical Center celebrates this theme during 2015 Air Force Week. Check it out!


In the mid-1970s, Embraer had already earned recognition in the aviation market and was thinking about strengthening partnerships with foreign companies. In doing so, it was aiming to expand its portfolio of aircraft and also to meet the demand of the Ministry of Aeronautics (MAer) of Brazil to modernize the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).

In 1976, the first studies were carried out for manufacture of a subsonic plane in partnership with Italian company Macchi which, at the time, was already developing an advanced jet design, launched the following year under the designation MB 340.

In order to prioritize a greater Brazilian share in the development of the project and harmonizing it with the needs of the Italian Air Force, Embraer and the companies Aeritália (now Alenia Aeronautica) and Macchi (now Aermacchi) partnered, in 1978, opting for the creation of the AMX subsonic fighter program, with the acronym standing for A for Aeritália, M for Macchi, and X for experimental.

Team of the three companies responsible for the development of the AMX. Among them, Ozires Silva, Ozílio Silva, Adalto Ferreira da Silva and Antônio Garcia da Silveira / 1983.


In 1980, after a period of review of the work, Brazilian aviation authorities announced, at the Farnborough International Airshow, in England, the decision to integrate the Italian program. On March 27, 1981, the agreement that formalized the partnership between the two countries was signed.

AMX workshare program

The agreement determined that the Italian companies would be responsible for around 70% of the program and Embraer for the remaining 30%. Embraer was charged with the development and manufacture of the wings, air intakes for the engine, horizontal stabilizers, underwing pylons, and fuel tanks. The Brazilian company also participated actively in the whole design of the landing gear, navigation, attack, flight controls, and weapons systems. For the flight testing campaign in Brazil, Embraer built two prototypes and a specimen for fatigue tests.


The AMX was designed as a single-engine fighter-bomber jet, specialized for attack missions, focusing on sturdiness and reliability for high exposure missions. Compatible with the continental dimensions of Brazil and use in Europe, the project considered the need for long range, including air-to-air refueling capacity. In addition, it incorporated new technologies, such as advanced systems for computing, navigation, attack, and electronic countermeasures. Among other innovations, the project introduced new technologies such as HOTAS (Hands On Throttle and Stick), which concentrates the navigation and attack commands on the stick, the Head-Up Display, which brings together flight and navigation information, the Multifunctional Display, and electronic RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) countermeasures.

Three views of the AMX aircraft
AMX specifications and performance (A-1)

In the Brazilian Air Force, the jet carries out ground attack, aerial support, and tactical reconnaissance missions. Equipped with Rolls Royce turbines, the subsonic jet was considered an "invisible plane", i.e., its electronic countermeasure (ECM) box emitted continuous signals in order to go undetected by radars and other sensing instruments.


The official presentation of the plane took place in Italy on May 15, 1984, and the first prototype of the AMX built in Brazil – the program's fourth – made its inaugural flight on October 16, 1985, in São José dos Campos, piloted by captain Luiz Fernando Cabral. The roll out of the aircraft took place on the 22nd of the same month and was attended by Brazilian and Italian authorities.

In 1988, the first serial factory AMX flew in Italy and the first deliveries to the respective Brazilian and Italian Air Forces took place the same year.

Rollout in Brazil, October 22, 1985

By the year 2000, approximately 200 planes of this type had been produced. The AMX has also flown 252 combat missions piloted by the Italian squadrons, with no aircraft lost. In Brazil, the fighter, designated the A-1 by the Brazilian Air Force, is operated by the first (Poker) and third (Centauro) squadrons of the 10th Aviation Group of the Air Base of Santa Maria (RS), and by the first squadron (Adelphi) of the 16th Aviation Group of the Air Base of Santa Cruz (RJ).

First flight (October 16, 1985) and official presentation (October 22, 1985) in Brazil
AMX in the Italian sky

Direct participation in the development of the AMX Program also allowed Embraer to absorb advanced technologies in the areas of jet propulsion, fly-by-wire flight control system, weapons control and aiming systems, digital bus systems and development of embedded software. This legacy was essential to the development of the ERJ 145 regional jet, a plane which marked the history of Embraer and raised the Brazilian aeronautical industry to the position of world leader. In addition to the technological innovations, the AMX also gave Embraer experience in integrated development of the product with international partners. This management model was expanded and applied to several Embraer programs, such as the ERJ 145 itself and the family of commercial E-Jets.


The high performance obtained by the AMX led the Brazilian Air Force to decide for the modernization of the A-1, a task which was entrusted to Embraer.

Announced in 2009, the A-1M program provides for revitalization and modernization of the fighters and includes the incorporation of new systems for navigation, oxygen generation, multimode radar, and electronic countermeasures, as well as a structural revision.

Innovations of the A-1M / by Marcelo Ribeiro

Among other improvements, the added innovations allowed for reduction of the pilots' workload in combat by replacing analog indicators with multifunctional digital screens, optimizing control and weapons functions. Since 2013, the A-1M has been operating in the Brazilian Air Force and has introduced numerous other operational advantages, such as the improvement in the fleet's employment doctrine, better performance of flight hours, and reduction of the maintenance and operating costs.

Traditional "christening" of the aircraft after the first successful flight in Gavião Peixoto - SP / 2012
Delivery of the first A-1M to the Brazilian Air Force / 2013
first woman to pilot the AMX in Brazil

The program also benefits the generation of Brazilian technology in the area of avionics systems and development of embedded software, lending autonomy to Brazil and fostering initiatives related to defense electronics.

With increasing performance in the global market, the products and solutions of Embraer Defense & Security are present in over 60 countries. A leader in the Latin American aerospace and defense industry, the business unit has benefited from a long history of Embraer achievements which, since the 1970s, has played a strategic role in the defense of national sovereignty.


João Marcos da Silva, process analyst

"I started my career at EDE (Embraer Equipment Division), now ELEB, in June of 1984. I had the privilege to participate in the production of the AMX landing gear in Brazil. The design of the landing strut was quoted in Cartesian x, y, and z coordinates, which at the time was a very big challenge in the construction of the manufacturing processes."

Luiz Carlos de Araujo Limia, aircraft maintenance technician and engineer

"I started at Embraer in May of 1987, in the customer training area. I participated in a team responsible to produce the instruction material and to train the first group of Brazilian Air Force maintenance members belonging to the 1st/16th GAv Squadron to Operate the AMX, designated in the Brazilian Air Force as the A-1 and A-1B. After this experience, we went to the field to provide technical assistance and start operations at the Air Base of Santa Cruz, RJ. It was a very rich experience that brought new challenges, technology, professional and personal growth, both for EMBRAER and for the Brazilian Air Force.

Paulo Toledo, training specialist

"I have worked at Embraer since February 1981 and I participated in the AMX program from the beginning. I worked on all the phases of assembly and support for testing of the two Brazilian prototypes, and I continued in the program up until the delivery of serial no. 0030, when I was transferred to the customer training area to take over, as an instructor, part of the training program for the AMX. This program was of the utmost importance to the company and to me, because it brought about much of what we have today in terms of state-of-the-art technology widely used in various other products."

João Aparecido Vieira, process technician

"I started my career at Embraer in April of 1985, and was very proud to be part of the group that painted the first AMX. I helped to do the technical inscriptions, placards, and crests!"

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