In the late 1980s, Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA (Embraer) and Aermacchi launched The AMX project, a joint Italian/Brazilian program to create a lead-in fighter trainer and light attack aircraft. The result was a capable jet, especially in the light attack role, which entered service with Brazil in 1990 as the A-1. Unfortunately for the AMX team, the Soviet empire’s fall took a lot of impetus out of the global combat jet market. Meanwhile, fierce competition from entrenched competitors like the Czech L-39 Albatross family, BAE’s Hawk family, and the Franco-German Alpha Jet ensured that AMX never took off in that shrunken export market.
Brazil’s FAB still uses the AMX as an important component of its air combat power, with about 43 A-1A fighters and 11 lead-in trainers in the fleet. Italy also uses the aircraft, but Brazil’s dearth of operational front-line fighters, and larger land area, make the AMX much more important in Brazil. Which is why Brazil’s A-1A fleet needs upgrades, in order to remain effective.