The ALR Piranha was an aircraft project undertaken by the Swiss Air Force's Swiss Working Group for Aerospace (ALR) to develop a lightweight multi-role combat aircraft with canard wings. The ALR is the maintenance and entertainment unit of the Swiss Air Force. The project was managed by Bridel, an engineer at the ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology).
After the Swiss government cancelled the FFA N-20 and an order for 100 FFA P-16s, the Swiss aviation industry and the ETH Zurich made a final attempt to build their own Swiss fighter aircraft. The plans called for a small fighter plane similar in class to the F-5E, which the Swiss Air Force later ordered.
In the 1960s and 1970s, modern military aircraft equipment was too expensive for small states to afford. The increase in the cost of flight material and weapons resulted in reductions in fleet sizes and capacity of service branches of small states to perform in combat. The strategy for the ALR Piranha was to deliver a design that would utilize common parts that could be built to support multiple mission types; air and ground attack, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and operational training. The result was a fighter plane with significantly reduced size relative to the F-5E (20% smaller surface).
The Piranha design was of close-coupled Canard arrangement, with a shoulder-mounted, low aspect ratio main wing of near-delta plan. Seven hard-points for weapons were planned, with four under-wing pylons and one on the aircraft center line rated at 500 kilograms (1,100 lb), plus rails on the aircraft's wingtips for air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder or the R.550 Magic. A single cannon, either the heavy, powerful 30 mm Oerlikon KCA or the lighter Mauser BK-27, would be mounted on the aircraft's center line, with the nose wheel slightly offset as a result.
The ALR would have been equipped with avionics, radar, armament and engines from abroad, and a laser seeking sensor in front of the cockpit. In the single-engine model design, air brakes would be located on the sides of the rear hull. In the twin-engine version, the two air brake flaps would be mounted on the upper fuselage near the vertical tail.
The ALR Piranha would have been either a single-engine version, powered by RB199, EJ200 or M88 or a twin-engine model with two Larzacs. In the two models, only the rear portion of the aircraft would differ in size, affecting the arrangement of the parachute container and the air brakes.
Although the Swiss government lost interest in the project, prototype remote-controlled model ALR Piranha airplanes did reach the wind-tunnel and flight testing phase. A life-size mock cockpit was also constructed. Additionally, engineers designed a new concept for aircraft bunkers using a rotating floor disc for easy handling of the aircraft within the hangar. No prototype of the aircraft bunker was built.