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Artist's concept
Role Interceptor, tactical strike, reconnaissance
National origin United Kingdom/France
Manufacturer British Aircraft Corporation/Dassault Aviation
Status Cancelled
Number built None
Developed into Panavia Tornado

The AFVG (standing for Anglo-French Variable Geometry) was a supersonic multi-role combat aircraft with a variable-geometry wing,[N 1] being jointly developed by British Aircraft Corporation in the United Kingdom and Dassault Aviation of France. The project was cancelled in June 1967, when the French Government withdrew from participation. BAC modified the specification to solely satisfy Royal Air Force needs, reconfiguring the design as the UKVG and sought out new partners to procure the aircraft, which ultimately emerged as the tri-national consortium-funded MRCA Panavia Tornado, a variable-geometry wing fighter aircraft.



The AFVG project followed on from the earlier BAC P.45 design study[N 2] for a variable-geometry strike/trainer/fighter aircraft for the Royal Air Force; one of a number of proposed designs[N 3] to meet AST.362.[4]

Anglo-French collaboration[edit]

Discussions took place in 1964 between France and Great Britain on collaborative military aviation programs with Handel Davies, the co-chairman of an Anglo-French committee, and his French counterpart, Ingénieur-General Lecamus, negotiating the launch of two new military combat aircraft. The French would take the lead role in a light ground-attack/trainer, while the British assumed the leadership of a swing-wing multirole fighter project.[5]

On 17 May 1965, after the cancellation of the BAC TSR-2, the British and French governments signed agreements for the two joint projects; one based on the Breguet Aviation Br.121 ECAT ("Tactical Combat Support Trainer") proposal; this would later evolve, after the cancellation of AFVG, to become the SEPECAT Jaguar. The other was the AFVG, a larger, variable-geometry carrier-capable fighter aircraft for the French Navy (Aéronavale) as well as fulfilling interceptor, tactical strike and reconnaissance roles for the Royal Air Force.[6]

Artist's concept drawing based on 1965 AFVG design

Design specifications[edit]

In RAF service, the AFVG was originally intended as a fighter, replacing the English Electric Lightning.[7] However, following the RAF's decision to procure the F-4 Phantom II instead, the AFVG's expected role changed in 1966 to supplementing the F-111K[N 4] strike aircraft in replacing the English Electric Canberra and the V bomber force.[8]

The AFVG was to be powered by two SNECMA/Bristol Siddeley M45G turbofans, fed by Mirage-style half-shock cone inlets.[9] The engine development programme contract was to be issued by the French government to a SNECMA/Bristol Siddeley joint venture company registered in France.[8]


For Marcel Dassault, the founder of the firm that bore his name, relinquishing leadership on a major project, essentially taking a subordinate position to BAC on the AFVG threatened his company's long-term objective of becoming a premier prime contractor for combat aircraft.[10] After less than a year, Dassault began to actively undermine the AFVG project, working on two competing "in-house" projects: the variable-geometry Mirage G and the Mirage F1.[11]

In June 1967, the French government announced their withdrawal from the AFVG project ostensibly on grounds of cost.[N 5] The unilateral French decision led to a censure debate in the House of Commons.[13] By 1967 when the French withdrew from the AFVG programme, the Air Ministry was faced with a dilemma stemming from the imminent prospect of cancelling the F-111K, a decision that was taken in November 1967, to be formalized on 20 March 1968.[14]


With the prospect of no operational aircraft available to fulfill the RAF's strike role, BAC revamped the AFVG design, eliminating the carrier capabilities that were no longer necessary, into a larger, more strike-oriented VG aircraft, renamed UKVG.[14] While funding for the UKVG in the United Kingdom was seriously restricted, the government sought partners in NATO[N 6] to create a common NATO strike aircraft. This eventually led to the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) project, later to become the Panavia Tornado.[5]


Data from Project Cancelled: The Disaster of Britain's Abandoned Aircraft Projects[15]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two
  • Length: 57.19 ft (17.43 m)
  • Wingspan: 42.6 ft (unswept) (12.98 m)
  • Height: 17.68 ft (5.39 m)
  • Loaded weight: 30,000 to 50,000 lb (13,608 to 22,680 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × SNECMA/Bristol Siddeley M45G



  • 2× 30-millimetre (1.2 in) autocannon
  • 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) tactical nuclear weapon


  1. ^ The term in use at the time was variable-geometry.
  2. ^ BAC ceased work on the P.45 and its follow-up P.61 project in 1965.[1][2]
  3. ^ The BAC P.45/P.61 joined the Folland Fo.147, Hawker Siddeley P.1173, Hunting H.155 and Vickers 593 as contenders for the AST.362 advanced fighter/trainer requirement.[3]
  4. ^ Another variable-geometry (VG) design from the US replacing the cancelled TSR-2.
  5. ^ Dassault gained valuable data on variable-geometry configurations and may have used the excuse of cost issues to divert funds to their own VG projects.[12]
  6. ^ Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and West Germany were approached.[5]
  1. ^ Willox 2002, p. 35.
  2. ^ "The Sepecat Jaguar and its roots." Top Secret. Retrieved: 4 February 2011.
  3. ^ Hastings, David. "SEPECAT Jaguar: Origins." Target Lock, 2010. Retrieved: 13 February 2011.
  4. ^ Bowman 2007, p. 13.
  5. ^ a b c "Obituary: Handel Davies." The Guardian, 24 May 2003. Retrieved: 29 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Anglo-French projects go ahead... The AFVG and its dual role." Flight via, 26 January 1967.
  7. ^ Gardner 1981, p. 137.
  8. ^ a b "AFVG Programme Details: Questions and some answers from the Commons debate on defence." Flight via, 9 March 1967. Retrieved: 29 January 2011.
  9. ^ Morris 1994, p. 137.
  10. ^ Gardner 2006. pp. 214–215.
  11. ^ DeVore, Marc. "Making Collaboration Work: Examining Sub-Optimal Performance and Collaborative Combat Aircraft." Retrieved: 2 February 2011.
  12. ^ "Military and Research." Flight via, 1 June 1967. Retrieved: 29 January 2011.
  13. ^ "Mr. Healey under Fire: The AFVG Censure debate." Flight via, 20 July 1967. Retrieved: 29 January 2011.
  14. ^ a b Heron 2002, p. 11.
  15. ^ Wood 1986, p. 185.
  • Bowman, Martin W. SEPECAT Jaguar. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword Books, 2007. ISBN 1-84415-545-5.
  • Gardner, Charles. British Aircraft Corporation: A History. London: B.T. Batsford Limited, 1981. ISBN 0-7134-3815-0.
  • Gardner, Robert. From Bouncing Bombs to Concorde: The Authorised Biography of Aviation Pioneer Sir George Edwards OM. Stroud, Gloustershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-7509-4389-0.
  • Heron, Group Captain Jock. "Eroding the Requirement." The Birth of Tornado. London: Royal Air Force Historical Society, 2002. ISBN 0-9530345-0-X.
  • Morris, Peter W. G. The Management of Projects. Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers, 1994. ISBN 978-0-7277-1693-4.
  • Wallace, William. "British External Relations and the European Community: The Changing Context of Foreign Policy-making." JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, Volume 12, Issue 1, September 1973, pp. 28–52.
  • Willox, Gerrie. "Tornado/MRCA: Establishing Collaborative Partnerships and Airframe Technology." The Birth of Tornado. London: Royal Air Force Historical Society, 2002. ISBN 0-9530345-0-X.
  • Wood, Derek. Project Cancelled: The Disaster of Britain's Abandoned Aircraft Projects. London: Jane's, 2nd edition, 1986. ISBN 0-7106-0441-6.

External links[edit]