Monday, November 16, 2009

Dubai 09: L-15 makes desert debut

SOURCE:Flight Daily News
Dubai 09: L-15 makes desert debut
By Stephen Trimble

China's latest aerospace export candidate - the L-15 Falcon advanced jet trainer - will be on full display at the Dubai air show, a rare glimpse of the supersonic aircraft outside its home country.

The L-15, a product of Hongdu Aviation and a lookalike of the Yakovlev Yak-130, is making the rounds of major air shows seeking its first export order. Its appearance in Dubai follows the two-seat jet's debut at the MAKS air show in Moscow three months ago.

Since entering flight-testing in 2006, the L-15 has been linked to sales discussions in China, Russia and Venezuela. The Middle East could prove fertile ground for potential sales. Jordan, in particular, is looking for a new lead-in trainer as it receives upgraded F-16s. Recent F-16 fighter sales in Oman, and requirements for new fighters in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar also could attract interest in China's L-15.

The L-15 that joins the flying display in Dubai is likely to be one of the first three prototypes powered by the ZMKB Progress DV-2 engine. Hongdu has selected Ukraine's Ivchenko-Progress AI-222-25F engine for production versions.

As Hongdu travels to the Middle East seeking export orders, the status of the L-15 inside China remains uncertain.

The L-15 is competing with the Guizhou Aircraft Industry JL-9 to win a contract to supply and advanced lead-in jet trainer for the Chinese air force.

Perhaps seeking to mitigate the risk of a contract loss, Hongdu has started publicly discussing new variants of the L-15, including one-seat, armed and naval versions.

China L15 Debuts at Dubai Airshow

Nov 14, 2009

John Morris/Show News

Dubai Airshow

Numerous international fighter and test pilots have already flown the AVIC Hongdu L15 Eagle twin-engined trainer, as China's marketing and flight test campaigns intensify.

In its first appearance outside China, the private venture training aircraft is flying here daily, with the company working toward orders from Middle East and African nations.

The spirited daily display involves high G turns and pull-ups of up to 6g, slow flight with angles of attack up to 25 degrees, rapid acceleration from low energy situations, and directional changes that illustrate a maximum instant turning angular velocity of 26 degrees per second.

"The pilots are demonstrating the maneuverability and carefree handling in all flight regimes," L15 chief designer Zhang Hong said in an interview with Show News. The aircraft here is No. 3 out of the five that have been built. Two are being used for static tests, and the other three have racked up some 300 hours of flight test with a goal of Chinese military certification next year.

"We are more than half way there," Zhang said.

The aircraft will continue to explore the flight envelope, and has demonstrated "excellent handling" at angles up to "30-plus degrees" AOA, he said. Maximum level speed will be Mach .95, with supersonic capability in a dive. Design features include fly-by-wire with flight envelope limiters and auto spin recovery

Hongdu has not yet signed any contracts for the aircraft but has already adopted several recommendations from potential customers, Zhang said. He would not name them, but the L15 is designed to meet training requirements of China's PLAAF.

The L15 seen here is the basic Advanced Jet Trainer, which Zhang said is the beginning of a family of advanced, fly-by-wire aircraft that will include a supersonic (Mach 1.4) LIFT ground attack aircraft with radar, nine weapons hardpoints instead of the trainer's seven, weapons management systems, and more powerful, afterburning engines (AI-222K-25Fs from Ukraine's Ivchenko-Progress).

The first afterburning engines could be available as soon as the end of this year as work begins on the LIFT program, Zhang said. Plans call for that variant to be certified in 2012.

Zhang said that the philosophy behind the L15 family is that of a low-cost, low maintenance aircraft that, with minimal aerodynamic and systems changes, can perform a wide variety of missions from training to combat and tactical support.


Anonymous said...

Good looking Aircraft. Looks very close to Yak-130 though. Had the relations between India and China are good, china could have sold atleast 100 of these LIFT aircraft to India. It would have been a very good export customer for this good looking aircraft.

Anonymous said...

Yak designers helped to make aircraft thats why it looks like a Yak 130.