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)
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.
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