IML Addax: New Zealand’s design for a superfighter


One free-thinking group of aircraft designers considered how to make a new multirole fighter. The result of the study was a design for an aircraft like nothing else before or since. Even more surprisingly, this exciting plan for a futuristic superfighter came not from the elite fighter houses of the USSR or the US, but an unknown company in New Zealand. 

From the late 1970s, the IML Group in New Zealand studied existing combat aircraft to see if they could come up with a better solution. Their concept, the Addax, proved to be exceptionally bold. The Addax-1 was to be powered by two vectored thrust turbofans in the 10,000-Ib thrust class (obvious contenders would have included the Rolls-Royce Spey or TF34)

addax 6.png

The aerodynamic configuration was unusual to say the least, consisting of a ‘self-stabilising aerofoil’ formed by the fuselage between the tailbooms, with upper surface blowing across all lifting surfaces providing the aircraft with extreme short take-off and landing capabilities.

Internal weapon bays could carry up to ten 1,000-Ib bombs and external pylons could carry an additional 3,000 Ibs. The gun armament would have been ferocious comprising either four 30-mm Oerlikon cannon or two 20-mm M61A1 Vulcans. Maximum speed would have been 740mph, and it would had a lo-lo-lo tactical radius of 480 miles with maximum bombload.


The Addax-S was even more impressive. This was a supersonic air-superiority fighter based on the same configuration, with outstanding manoeuvrability.

Of course, The New Zealand Government was never really going to fund either Addax, but it was an intriguingly left-field glimpse of how fighters could have evolved. The designs were released in 1982, but even today they appear more futuristic than any known aircraft programme.



The degree to which radar stealthiness was considered for the Addax (in this case, the air superiority S variant) is unknown. What appears to be a very stealthy design is marred by what appears to be a direct line of sight to the engine’s compressor face.


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  1. Tim Robinson

    Wow!!! I thought this would be another pisstake like the Trump thing but it’s real!!! As a proud Kiwi I was ready to get angry… then I did sone research!!! Thanks Hush Kit, no other web site could’ve done this

  2. Bill Abbott

    I remember that one! There was a New Yorker cartoon years ago, with a USAF general on the phone, saying, “We think the the National Endowment for the Arts should buy a Stealth Bomber because of the way it defines convex and concave spaces….”

    Perhaps this is how to evade Norman Augustine’s extrapolation to where the USAF and USN get to share the purchase of 1 aircraft in a given year, because that’s all they can afford. I think the National Endowment for the Arts, for starters, ought to fund a flying prototype of something really cool at least once in every decade. Could be Yet Another Flying Car, could be Single-Stage-To-Orbit, something that flies higher and faster than the SR-71, an ultra-ultra-light so benign that it couldn’t kill you, (yeah,, booooring) something pointy and swoopy and different from anything seen before… Because children need to see something cool, because adults need to know that something cool is possible, because 1 person in a million has an idea for something cool that might work. Or not. And, in truth, its perspiration, not inspiration, that makes Mars Rovers and all the rest really work. So lets build autonomous drones that neutralize and/or collect the plastic junk that threatens endangered species, or harvest vine-ripe tomatoes and carry them to edge of the fields.

    The real trick would be keeping Scaled Composites from walking away with the award, every time its made.

  3. Gray Stanback

    Awesome design. I will say though, that if I were designing a fighter plane for New Zealand I would have called it the “Pouakai”– a man-eating monster bird from Maori mythology.

  4. Jerry Brouillette

    I came across this site researching the Addax. I purchased a fibreglass model of a concept aircraft off of e-vil bay about 10 years ago and I’m finally digging into it. I’m sure it’s an Addax ground support version. It came from Florida and the seller thought it was a Disney World prop of some kind. It’s a large size 5 pc unfinished/unpainted model (missing wing tips and exhaust fairing behind canopy), about 44″ long, 21″ span and 12″ tall. Really well made. I’d like to share some pictures and find out more about it.
    Superior site by the way, expect a donation soon.

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