Aero aiming to restart L-159 production
Czech manufactuer Aero Vodochody is reporting fresh interest in its L-159 trainer/light combat aircraft. The company says it is negotiating with several potential customers and is ready for a possible restart of series production. Aero says the assembly line had been kept prepared for a restart if needed.
Thirteen years after delivery of the last aircraft to the Czech Air Force, Aero Vodochody is manufacturing “new” (i.e. reworked) L-159 aircraft, such as a two-seater to be delivered to Iraq at the turn of the year (photo). Iraq has reportedly ordered 15 L-159s, with the first two having been delivered in November 2015.
In 2014, Draken International announced an agreement with Aero Vodochody and the Czech Republic Ministry of Defence involving the purchase and “regeneration” of up to 28 L-159s. The two companies also entered into a strategic partnership covering MRO operations at Draken’s Lakeland facility in Florida, as well as exclusive rights for Draken to market the L-159 and future derivatives to customers in North and South America.
Aero says that the Iraqi and Draken deals are responsible for the renewed interest. It sees increasing demand for light combat aircraft in coming years and believes the L-159 is very competitive. The manufacturer says it is negotiating with Honeywell about future cooperation involving a new Honeywell engine.
Relaunch of the L-159 programme is in line with the new strategy of the company, which now wants to refocus more on the production of military aircraft. In addition to the light combat L-159, Aero is offering L-39NG jet trainer, a new-generation version of the legendary Albatros.