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Aero Vodochody Receives L-39NG Certification

Czech airframer Aero Vodochody — which built its first aircraft in 1919 — has received EU/NATO certification to the EMAR 21 standard for its L-39NG new generation trainer/light attack jet in the baseline trainer version. The program began in 2014 and the first of four prototypes flew in December 2018. The second followed a year later, while the other two carried out static and fatigue tests, which the company completed in July last year.

Aero Vodochody now has the first example in serial production for launch customer Vietnam, which is buying 12 for advanced and weapons training. It will complete the first two before the end of the year, although an initially armed version will be held in the Czech Republic for supplementary type certification flights. The other will be used for basic maintainer training before being handed over to the Vietnamese Air Force in 2023.

Hungary, which ordered 12 men for training and as light attackers, followed. Four of them will be configured for reconnaissance/forward air control with an L3 Wescam MX-15E electro-optic turret mounted under the fuselage in a permanent installation. Another order from a third customer will be announced soon.

In another development, Aero Vodochody this week signed a memorandum of understanding with US company Patriots Global Training, which has used the first-generation L-39 for 22 years to provide military pilot training, including the US Air Force’s partner country training programs. That effort could expand to as many as 250 aircraft, and the Patriots are pitching the L-39NG as an ideal, cost-effective training mount for this need. The MOU calls for the establishment of a regional maintenance and upgrade hub for the L-39 and, if an order is large enough, the aircraft could be manufactured in the United States.

Although it shares its exterior shape with the original L-39, of which about 3,000 were built, the NG is essentially an entirely new aircraft. It is powered by a Williams International FJ44-4M turbofan and features a Martin-Baker CZ16H ejection seat, 15,000-hour airframe life, single-piece forward canopy and new avionics. The latter includes sophisticated training functions such as virtual radar and mission system and weapons simulation.

The baseline L-39NG has two underwing hardpoints for drop tanks, while the armed version has one centerline and four underwing hardpoints for weapons carriage, including a centerline gun installation such as FN Herstal’s HMP 0.5—a machine gun pod. Total payload is 1,650 kilograms.

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