UAE Surprisingly Plans For Chinese Jet Trainer
In a surprise move, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) defense ministry announced Feb. 23 it was planning to contract with China’s National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. (CATIC) to purchase 12 L-15 advanced jet trainers, with options for 36 more.
The decision comes after more than a decade of deliberations over a new jet trainer to replace the UAE’s fleet of BAE Systems Hawks.
For CATIC, the selection of the L-15 by what is arguably one of the most capable air forces in the Middle East is certainly prestigious and could boost the platform’s export chances elsewhere.
Often called the Falcon, the L-15 is described by CATIC as a twin-engine, supersonic-capable lead-in fighter trainer platform that is similar in configuration to Leonardo’s M346 and the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130, which were developed in parallel during the late 1990s. Built by the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, the L-15 made its first flight in 2006; the platform has so far been exported to Zambia. And small numbers are also in service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force, where it is designated as the JL-10.
This is an abbreviated version of the Aviation Week & Space Technology article Emirati Plans For Chinese Jet Trainer Could Further Muddy U.S. Ties
by Tony Osborne. Subscribers can read the full article here.