In the 1960s, a small, unique, and capable ground attack aircraft was designed by British Aircraft Corporation. This aircraft, the BAC 167 Strikemaster, would go on to serve with a number of countries across the world.

First flying in 1967, the Strikemaster was developed from the BAC Jet Provst, a trainer aircraft from 1954, which itself was a jet powered modernisation of the Percival Provst P.56 trainer, created in 1950. The Strikemaster retained much of the design of the Jet Provst, including its seating configuration, basic airframe, and so on, although it did feature several improvements, including a better engine, and better Martin Baker ejection seats, among other things.

The Strikemaster featured eight hard points on the wings, which could be outfitted with a variety of modifications, including rocket pods, napalm, bombs, and drop tanks. In the fuselage, the aircraft carried two 303 machine guns, carrying upwards of 500 rounds each. Despite its small size, the Strikemaster could be loaded with up to 3000 pounds of ordinance. It would often carry four 500 pound Mk82 bombs at once, alongside full fuel load and both machine guns loaded to the max. Quite impressive given just how small the aircraft is.

It was marketed as both a strike aircraft and a trainer. Of the 146 aircraft produced, the majority ordered by other nations was for use as an advanced jet trainer. This is likely because it was both similar to conventional jet trainers, such as the Macchi, whilst also having a unique seating configuration, and a diverse array of possible armament. Many nations used it as a trainer, including New Zealand, Singapore, Botswana, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and others.

However, several aircraft would be used in wartime, as the designers intended. Yemen, Oman, and Ecuador would all use the aircraft in combat. Ecuador would deploy the aircraft in 1995, during the Cenepa War. Here, it was tasked with ground attack missions, and saw moderate use. Before this, it had been used by Oman during the Dhofar Rebellion. It’s primary role was – as expected – strike missions on enemy positions. However, later in the war, it was used in a close air support role, watching over troops. South Yemen would also use the aircraft in combat, once again taking part in light ground attack missions.

The aircraft was a good match for use in third world countries, thanks to its small size, and robust design. It was well suited for rough terrain. Strong, short landing gear and tough tires allowed it to operate from short or poorly paved runways. Alongside this, its ejection system was optimised for low altitude bailouts, which was attractive given the likelihood of it partaking in low altitude strike missions. Although the aircraft had some flaws, it gained a reputation for its operability in harsh environments.

The Strikemaster had a long career, serving countries into the 1990s. However, several flying aircraft still exist, including this one. In fact, one is still in the possession of the Ecuadorian Air Force, and continues to fly.