L-15 Jet Trainers Will Equip Emirati Aerobatic Team, UAE Official Confirms

An L-15 jet trainer in the Dubai Airshow flying display.

Credit: Mark Wagner Aviation Images

DUBAI—An Emirati defense official has confirmed that a new fleet of Chinese-made L-15 advanced jet trainers will become the new mount for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force aerobatic team.

Colonel Saeed Al-Ghawi, the official spokesman for the Dubai Airshow at the UAE Defense Ministry, told ShowNews on Nov. 15 that 12 L-15s had been purchased as a replacement for the Leonardo/Aermacchi MB-339s currently flown by the country’s Fursan Al Emarat aerobatic team. He could not, however, confirm when the aircraft would be delivered or whether the new aircraft would be available to equip the team in time for the next Dubai Airshow, planned for 2025.

Al-Ghawi said the aerobatic team had been closely involved in analysis of different trainer types, and that the platform had been selected by a committee based on the “best quality and price.” He also confirmed that options for 36 additional aircraft are still in place and suggested that conversion of those options would depend on the success of the operation of the L-15 with the aerobatic team.

The statement from the UAE Defense Ministry follow the announcement by UAE’s Tawazun Council, a defense acquisition organization, on the first day of the Dubai Airshow, that they had finalized the AED1.62 billion ($440 million) contract for the aircraft, including technical support. Tawazun Council officials reiterated that the UAE seeks diverse sources for its defense equipment, noting that the UAE Armed Forces operate systems supplied by France, Russia and the U.S., among others.

The contract signing comes 20 months after the UAE Defense Ministry announced in February 2022 that it was planning to contract for the L-15 aircraft.

Al-Ghawi confirmed the L-15 purchase as Tawazun announced a further AED5.1 billion of contracts on the third day of the Dubai Airshow from domestic and international suppliers.

The UAE military had spent AED16.8 billion by the end of the third day of the show, officials said, with 38% sourced from domestic suppliers.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.