China’s L-15 jet trainer is expected to be a direct competitor to the same type of aircraft, most notably the Russian Yak-130.

Most recently, Chinese media reported that the L-15 Falcon, also known as JL-10, dropped a 500 kg bomb for the first time in training. The PLA Air Force’s training plan for cadets masters ground attack and bombing early in their training program and the aircraft’s outstanding capabilities, analysts said on Tuesday.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force wants to train L-15 pilots to advance in ground attack exercises. The event that the L-15 dropped a 500 kg bomb for the first time was also an opportunity for China to promote this aircraft to potential customers around the world. The drills come just over a month after the United Arab Emirates announced plans to buy L-15 combat training aircraft.

L-15 Falcon
L-15 Falcon

The aircraft physical appearance similar to Yak-130 and Aermacchi M-346, and development had reportedly been completed alongside Yakovlev OKB of Russia. The L-15 has a length of 12.27 m, a wingspan of 9.48 m, a height of 4.81 m, an empty weight of 4.96 tons, and a maximum take-off weight of 9.5 tons.

Power is served through Ivchenko-Progress AI-222K-25 or AI-222-25F afterburning turbofan engines of Russian origin. The maximum speed can reach 1,715 km/h, equivalent to Mach 1.4, the range is 550 km, the service ceiling is 16,000 m, and the Rate of climb is 200 m/s.

L-15 is equipped with the latest advanced technologies developed by China, such as the digital quadruple fly-by-wire, glass cockpit and hands-on-throttle-and-stick flight control. The look-down field of view for the front cockpit is 18°, and 6° for the rear cockpit, exceeding the US requirement. The aerodynamic performance of the aircraft is enhanced by its large leading edge extensions design, which gives a maximum angle of attack of 30°. This is very useful when trying to simulate the maneuvers of advanced fourth-generation fighters such as J-10, JF-17 and J-11, as well as for newest fifth generation fighter like J-20 and J-31.

With the L-15, student pilots will be able to complete mission flight training and advanced combat training, as well as complete all basic jet flight training courses. The aircraft also has six pylons to carry various air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. If necessary, it can serve in the lightweight attack role with minor modifications, carrying up to 3.5 tons of armament.

Currently, Zambia is the only country that has purchased the L-15, while Uruguay and Venezuela have expressed interest in the aircraft. L-15 will compete directly with Italy’s MB.346, South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle, especially Russia’s Yak-130 in the market for providing training and combat aircraft.


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