Hongdu L-15 is a twin engine, modern jet trainer or light attack aircraft designed and manufactured by Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG) of China. It has been built as a rival to Guizhou JL-9/FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle. The L-15 will be used as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF). About five prototypes have been built by HAIG.
July 1, 2013 at 13:04 pm, a yellow factory painting coaches -10 “Falcon” senior trainer, in a central airplane in central China flew to the blue sky, the scene guests have applauded. According to sources, the coach-10 “Falcon” advanced trainer conducted the first test flight, it is learned that the aircraft will soon be delivered to the PLA Air Force, allegedly, our air force and naval aviation forces equipped with L-15 aircraft has been “Coach -10” official number, in the June 29 to complete the delivery of the first overseas users after the ceremony, “Coach -10” delivery ceremony has also been a complete success. (Globe picture) -Image: y3.ifengimg.com
A Hongdu brochure obtained at the 2015 Paris Airshow indicated that a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) version was also being developed. The LIFT version was said to have “afterburning engines, high-performance fire control radar, and weapons-carrying capacity for combat missions.”
Images appeared on Chinese websites in October 2015 showing an L-15 carrying a small radar, possibly a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) with a reported range of about 75 km: a development that would greatly improve the aircraft’s air-to-air combat capability.
Adding to the confusion, a model of an armed L-15 described as the attack/fighter/trainer (AFT) version was displayed during the Singapore Airshow in February.
An L-15 was not seen flying with weapons until the Hongdu anniversary video appeared on Chinese websites in early May. The aircraft was seen taking off with PL-5II air-to-air missiles, a centre-fuselage pod carrying a 23 mm cannon and underwing fuel tanks.
It also carried two Luoyang Electro Optical Technology Development Center LS-6 extended-range guided bombs. Introduced in 2006, the LS-6 has fold-out wings that give it a range of up to 60 km.
The L-15 in the video appeared to have non-afterburning turbofans, most likely the Lotarev DV-2s or the non-afterburning Progress AI-222-25 used in the L-15 prototypes. The production version of the L-15 is expected to use the 5 tonne-thrust Minshan afterburning engine that is currently being developed by the Guizhou Aero Engine Research Institute. Source janes.com
Hongdu L-15 trainer aircraft orders
PLAAF ordered four Hongdu L-15 trainer aircraft in April 2006. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is planning to procure Hongdu L-15 supersonic jet trainers from HAIG to replace its existing K-8 Karakorum jet trainer. The procurement will allow PAF to reduce its trainer aircraft from four to two.
It was rumored in September 2013 that JL-10 might be adopted by PLAN as a carrier-based trainer but this has not been confirmed. Several foreign countries have expressed serious interest in acquiring L-15. It was reported that 6 L-15Z upgraded AFT version (Attack/Fighter/Trainer) were ordered by Zambia in 2012.
These L-15Zs could carry PL-5II AAMs, LS-6 GPS/INS bombs, a belly 23mm gun pod and be used as a light attack aircraft. As a result a small fire-control (PESA? max range 60nm/111km) radarmay have been installed. It was reported in June 2014 that Venezuela expressed the intention to acquire 24 L-15s. Uruguay also showed some interest in August 2016. Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
K-8 Karakorum: Details
Zambian L-15 debuts
Image: Abri Kriegler – Source flightglobal.com
The first Chinese-made Hongdu L-15 supersonic light attack/jet trainer for Zambia has broken cover at Africa Aerospace and Defence in the markings of the air force’s 15 Sqn.
According to Flight Fleets Analyzer, Lusaka has ordered six of the Motor Sich AI-222-25-powered aircraft and the first example – AF-001 – arrived in Zambia “earlier this year”, says 15 Sqn’s Maj Paul Besa, who has been flying the type since 2015, initially in China, with “no problems”.
The L-15 was displayed with an array of Chinese weaponry, including a PL-5E II air-to-air missile and LS-6 guided glide bomb. 15 SEPTEMBER, 2016 SOURCE: FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL BY: MURDO MORRISON – Source flightglobal.com
Uruguayan Air Force eyeing China’s Hongdu L-15: Here
Hongdu L-15 design
HAIG unveiled the L-15 aircraft design in September 2001 during the 9th Aviation exhibition in Beijing. The large leading edge extensions (LEX) design allows the aircraft to offer a maximum angle of attack of 30°. The aircraft can also be changed into light air-to-ground attack aircraft with minor modifications.
The aircraft has been designed to train pilots of the third-generation fighters encompassing Su-27, Su-30, J-10, and J-11. The enhanced design provides safety to the pilot while cutting down the training cost compared to its rivals.
Two variants are being developed initially. One is advanced jet trainer (AJT), powered by two Ukraine AI-222-25 turbofan engines. The other is lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT), powered by two AI-222-25F with afterburner which give L-15 a supersonic capability. Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
HAIG L-15 development
The development of Hongdu L-15 began when Hongdu planned a modern trainer aircraft which would meet the requirements of PLAAF’s new generation fighters. Russian based Yakovlev Design Bureau aided in the L-15 manufacturing as its design resembles that of the Yak-130 aircraft.
The initial prototype was rolled out in September 2005 and took its maiden flight in March 2006. The second prototype completed its first flight in May 2008. The first and second prototypes are powered by two ZMKB-Progress (Lotarev) DV-2 engines. An improved version, the DV-2F, which boasts of afterburner capabilities, was fitted in the third model. Ukraine’s Ivchenko-Progress AI-222K-25F turbofan engines with afterburner are incorporated in the later L-15 versions.
The Hongdu L-15 was displayed at the Dubai Air show organised in November 2009 to promote its aircraft in the potential Middle East market. HAIG will receive export orders from Africa, the Middle East and South America.
The first operational variant powered by Ivchenko-Progress AI-222K-25F turbofan engines was introduced in August 2010 upon completion of six months production.
06 LIFT prototype stretched nose housing a small PESA radar
06 LIFT prototype – Image: chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
The 06 LIFT prototype finally took off on October 26, 2010. It features a stretched nose housing a small PESA radar developed by the 607 Institute (range ~75km), an improved glass cockpit with three MFDs, and two AI-222K-25F turbofans capable of supersonic flight. Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
06 LIFT prototype – Image: chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
L-15B Attack Variant of Jet Trainer Rolls Out: Here
The L-15B is an enhanced version of the L-15 LIFT (Lead In Fighter Trainer) variant used by both the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force. Both use the Ukrainian Ivchenko-Progress afterburning AI-222K-25F turbofan, giving the L-15B supersonic speed up to Mach 1.4. According to AVIC’s specifications, the L-15B has a maximum takeoff weight of 11.6 metric tons (25,573 pounds) and operational range of 2,600 km (1,616 miles).
L-15B LIFT fitted with afterburner performed maiden flight 21 Dec 2017
PLANAF’s first regiment of Hongdu JL-10H trainers enters service
Hongdu L-15 cockpit
The Hongdu L-15 features a full glass cockpit which can accommodate two crew members, either a student pilot and instructor, or an official pilot and weapons systems officer. A multi-colour head down display is fitted on both front and rear cockpit, while the head up display is installed at the cockpit front. Digital fly by wire (FBW), and hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) flight control systems are also installed in the aircraft.
New Glass Cockpit
The Hongdu L-15 comprises six hard points of which four are located under the two wings and two under the wing-tips. It can accommodate 3,000kg of payload. The aircraft can carry short range air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, bombs and rocket pods.
PL-5 (霹雳-5) air-to-air missile
The PL-5 (霹雳-5) air-to-air missile (PL stands for Pi Li, “Thunderbolt” in Chinese, the generic designation for all PRC air-to-air missiles) is a short-range, Infrared homing missile use by Chinese fighters. It is based on AA-2 Atoll technology and resembles the AIM-9 Sidewinder. The PL-5 have been continuously upgraded by Luoyang and the latest variant, the PL-5EII added a dual band, multi-element detector as well as a laser proximity fuse similar to the PL-9. According to Chinese export/import agency CATIC, the PL5E has an all-aspect capability with the seeker having a maximum off boresight angle of ±25° before launch, and ±40° after launch.
PL-12/SD-10 active radar-homing MRAAM
The PL-12 is claimed to have an operational ceiling of at least 21 km, with a maximum effective range of 100 km and a minimum engagement range of 1,000 m. The missile has a 38+ g manoeuvering limit and, according to CATIC, it has been tested for a 100-hour captive ‘live flight’ life. According to Chinese claims, PL-12 is more capable than the American AIM-120 A/B, but slightly inferior than the AIM-120C. Source airforceworld.com
PL-12 (K/AKK-12?) was under development at LETRI/607 Institute since early 90s. The missile was expected to be in the same class as AIM-120A/B and its active seeker may have evolved from the earlier AMR-1 design (R-129? based on Russian 9B-1348 seeker & datalink for R-77). Its tailfins appear to have fin tips as well as the leading edges of the fin root cropped. These specially designed tailfins are believed to possess lower drag for greater speed and higher torque for better maneuverability. Two datalink antennas can be seen next to the nozzle for mid-course correction. Several dielectric strips are seen along the middle warhead section which house the radio proximity fuse. PL-12 completed its development test in December 2004 and was certified in 2005. Its export version is called SD-10 (SD-10A as the improved version) and was first revealed to the public during the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow. Currently it is in the service with J-8F, J-10, J-11B, J-15 and Su-30MK2. In addition SD-10A is being carried by JF-17 currently in service with PAF. Some specifications of SD-10: length 3,850mm, diameter 203mm, wing span 674mm, weight 180kg, max g-load 38g, max speed 4M, range 60-70km. Recently produced PL-12 is expected to feature an improved seeker with new digital processor and SINS. The improved PL-12 (PL-12A?) is thought to be comparable to American AIM-120C4. It was reported in November 2010 that PL-12 may feature an active/passive dual mode seeker in order to achieve greater ECCM capability and kill probability. Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
This lightweight AShM recently entered the service with PLAN as part of the weapon package of Z-9D. Up to 4 missiles can be carried by Z-9D at a time. YJ-9 may have evolved from the earlier TL-10B developed by Hongdu. YJ-9 is a light, active radar guided anti-ship missile used against smaller FACs and gun boats (<1,000t). Its range is 15km, speed is Mach 0.8, weight is 105kg, and its warhead weighs 30kg. Besides Z-9D, YJ-9 is expected to be carried by the new Z-18F ASW helicopter as well. Its export version is dubbed YJ-9E. The missile has three versions depending on the guidance: YJ-9E (radar), YJ-9EA (TV) and YJ-9EB (semi-active laser). Recent news (September 2016) indicated that Zambian AF has ordered some YJ-9E ASM for its newly acquired L-15AFT aircraft. Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
In 2016, Hongdu disclosed the TL-20 small-diameter guided bomb at the Zhuhai Air Show and officially entered the field of precision guided bombs.
According to the Zhuhai Air Show public data, the TL-20 small diameter guided bomb weighs 100 kilograms, similar to the SDB, and also uses the gliding range extension kit, but the TL-20 uses a large aspect ratio flat wing, which is used by the SDB. It is a diamond-shaped wing. The aerodynamic design and structure are simpler than the latter. The development difficulty and cost are lower than the latter. However, the performance is not inferior to that of the SDB. The TL-20 has a high altitude of 85 kilometers. The TL-20 is also equipped with a composite guide. System to improve the accuracy of bomb placement, TL-20 basic guidance system inertial guidance plus satellite navigation positioning receiver, with day and night all-weather ground strike capability, in order to further improve the accuracy of TL-20 attack, it can also be equipped with terminal guidance system, for example Equipped with semi-active laser guidance system or other guidance system, TL-20 adopts inertial navigation plus satellite positioning and navigation composite guidance system in the middle section, and the semi-active laser guidance system or other guidance system is used for guidance at the end to improve the accuracy of ground attack. Source xuehua.us
LS-6 GPS/INS bombs
The LS-6 designation is applied to a family of guidance kits for a range of low drag bomb bodies. Known variants of the tailkit are for 500 kg, 250 kg, 100 kg and 50 kg bombs. The former variants are glidebombs, the latter variants strake equipped analogues to the US GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB).
The 500 kg / 250 kg LS-6 glidebomb design is modelled in many respects on the concept of the Australian developed planar wing Kerkanya glidebomb kit, more recently adapted to form the JDAM-ER. Unlike the Kerkanya which uses a low wing monoplane configuration with a blended adaptor fairing, the LS-6 glide wing kit is much simpler in design and the weapon flight configuration is that of a high wing monoplane. Cited range for an 11 km release altitude at 900 km/h is 60 km, considerably less than the Kerkanya/JDAM-ER design4.
Luoyang Description for 500/250 kg Variants (Cite):
LS-6 guided glide bomb is a low-cost but highly effective air to surface weapon for standoff precise attack on fixed ground targets, such as airports, seaports, bridges, commander centers, etc. With a wing kit and GPS/INS guidance unit, the conventional low-drag aerial bombs are modified into precision guided bombs with standoff attack ability.
Launched outside mid/short range air defense firepower
All-weather, day & night attack capability
Low cost but highly effective
Fire and forget capability
Excellent anti-interference capability
Modular guidance and control unit
Single target or multiple targets attack capability
The LS-6 standoff guided glide bomb (SOGGB) utilizes high-altitude and high-speed launching, high lift-drag ratio aerodynamic configuration and suitable control scheme to ensure a remote gliding control. Before the bomb is dropped, its on-board INS coordinate system must be aligned with that of the aircraft and the fire control system downloads the mission planning into the bomb. Within a specified period of time after the bomb being dropped, the stabilizing system of the bomb starts to work to ensure the bomb and the aircraft being separated safely. And then, the folded-wings expand, putting the bomb into the autonomous flight course, and the on-board control system of the bomb starts to operate to keep the bomb body stable. A combined GPS/INS navigation is adopted during this course. The guidance system translates and calculates the guidance commands and outputs to the autopilot to ensure the bomb flying in a planned trajectory. Based on the relative position of the bomb to the target, the bomb will enter its terminal guidance at a preset distance from the target. On the terminal course of the trajectory, attitude control will be performed via a vertical lead-bias to improve the kill effect.
- a) Kill Area：
For normal target：5,000 – 10,000 m2
For armored targe：100 – 500 m2
- b) Operational Altitude and Speed：
Launch altitude：4,000 – 11,000 m
Launch speed：600 – 1,000 km/h
- c) Maximum Launch Range：No less than 60 kilometers with a launch altitude of 11,000 meters and an initial speed of 900 km/h.
- d) Guidance Mode：Combined GPS/INS guidance.
- e) Guidance Accuracy： ≤15 meters CEP
Ivchenko Progress AI-222K-25F Engines
The aircraft is powered by two Ivchenko Progress AI-222K-25F afterburning turbofan engines. Each engine can generate 4,200kg of thrust afterburner.
The aircraft is also integrated with full authority digital engine control (FADEC), which decreases the work load of the pilot by executing autopilot operations.
The length and width of the engine are 2.2m and 0.86m respectively.
The height is 1.09m. The service life of the engine is 3000 flight hours, while the dry weight is 440kg.
AI-222-25F modification has an afterburner and thrust 4200 kp (68% gain). Engine is designed for future supersonic light compat planes with speed up to M=1.5.
|Full afterburner thrust rating (SLS, ISA, уinl=1,0 ):
|thrust, kgf (flat rated to ISA+15°C), not less
|SFC, kg/kgf•h, not more
|(H=11000 m; Mfl=1.4; ISA; уinl=0,97 ):
|Max thrust rating (SLS, ISA, уinl=1,0 ):
|SFC, kg/kgf•h, not more
|air flow rate, kg/s
|maximum TIT, K
|Dimensions and weight
|Fan diameter, mm
|Weight, dry (to State Standard 17106-90), kg, not more
* length from front flange to nozzle throat.
AI−222−25 Turbofan data motorsich.com
Minshan turbofan engine
The Minshan was displayed at the recent Airshow China in Zhuhai.
The 614 Institute of the Aviation Industrial Corporation of China (Avic), which is part of the state-owned conglomerate’s jet engine division, is sometimes referred to as the Gas Turbine Establishment (GTE). A Fadec system shown at the recent Airshow China in Zhuhai demonstrated how the GTE has been able to apply this technology to military aircraft engines. It was included in the Minshan engine, which is in the same class as the Ukrainian Ivchenko AI222-25. The Minshan could eventually replace this engine in the Hongdu L-15 jet trainer. source ainonline.com
JL-10/L-15 could be powered eventually by the domestic Minshan turbofan engine (WS-17? max thrust 4,700kg with A/B) developed by the Guizhou Aero Engine Research Institute. The engine was rumored to have been tested onboard a L-15 prototype. In early 2013 one prototype (01?) was converted into a UCAV technology demonstrator with the aft cockpit loaded with remote control and monitoring equipment. Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com
The Hongdu L-15 can climb at the rate of 150m/s. Its maximum speed is 1,715km/h. The range and combat radius of the aircraft are 3,100km and 550km respectively. The service ceiling of the aircraft is 16,000m. Its maximum loitering time is two hours. The aircraft weighs around 4,960kg and its maximum take-off weight is 9,500kg.
|Dimensions and weight
|Weight (maximum take off)
|Engines and performance
||2 x AL-222K-25F
|Traction (dry / with afterburning)
||3 100 km
||over 550 km
Technical data military-today.com
Main material source airforce-technology.com
Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated
Updated Oct 10, 2018