China has sold multiple L-15 multipurpose military aircraft to the United Arab Emirates, according to the country’s major aircraft manufacturer, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
The state-owned defense contractor said at a news conference on Tuesday that it had successfully reached an agreement with the UAE for the L-15.
The company said that the L-15 is a new generation of light combat/trainer aircraft that can be used to perform air combat, ground attack and train pilots to fly fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets. The aircraft has the characteristics of high training efficiency, strong combat effectiveness, and low operation and maintenance costs.
According to the company, the version that will be delivered to the UAE Air Force will have an aerial refueling capability.
It did not disclose how many L-15s were ordered, the value of the contract or the delivery schedule.
AVIC’s announcement is the first official confirmation of the L-15 deal in China.
In February 2022, the UAE’s official Emirates News Agency reported that the country’s Ministry of Defense was working to sign a contract with China Aviation Technology Import and Export Corporation, the export arm of AVIC, for 12 L-15s, with an option for 36 more in the future. s plane.
The report quoted a spokesman for the UAE military as saying that the Chinese aircraft is one of the top trainer/fighter aircraft in the world.
It also quoted Tareq Abdulraheem al Hosani, chief executive of the Tawazun Economic Council, as saying the anticipated deal was part of the Arab state’s ongoing efforts to diversify and modernize its military capabilities.
The Tawazun Economic Council is an official organization that manages procurement and contracts for the UAE Armed Forces and Abu Dhabi Police.
Developed by AVIC Hongdu Aviation Industry Group in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, the L-15 features two engines, a streamlined aerodynamic design and integrated avionics. It can be equipped with advanced fire control radar, medium-range air-to-air missiles, precision strike bombs, anti-ship cruise missiles and other ammunition.
The deal marks the UAE’s first introduction of a Chinese manned aircraft — it already deploys several types of Chinese combat drones — and the L-15’s first entry into the Middle East market.
Currently, the L-15 has three end users, namely the PLA Air Force, the PLA Navy and the Zambian Air Force.
Fu Qianshao, an aviation equipment expert who has served in the PLA Air Force for decades, said on Wednesday that the L-15 may be the best trainer aircraft in the world, which could explain why it is gaining popularity in the international market.
“The L-15 is one of only two supersonic trainer aircraft on the market. The other is the Korean T-50. The L-15 has a world-class aerodynamic design and fly-by-wire flight control system. It is the world’s It’s the only trainer on the planet with a passive phased array radar, which is better than any other radar used on a trainer,” he said.
The aircraft is powerful enough to engage advanced fighter jets such as the US’s F-16 or F/A-18 in low-altitude scenarios, Fu said.