The Hongdu L-15 Falcon made its maiden flight in 2006. Development of this aircraft was assisted by Russian Yakovlev design bureau, hence its resemblance to the Yak-130. This advanced trainer was competing for the PLAAF next generation advanced trainer aircraft programme against the Guizhou JL-9. These trainers were accepted to enter service with Chinese air force in 2013 under the JL-10 name. In 2012 it was announced that a total of 12 aircraft were ordered by undisclosed export customers. Now it is known that one of these customers was Zambia, that ordered 6 aircraft. Venezuela also plans to acquire 24 of these aircraft.
Aircraft is fitted with two Ukranian Progress AL-222K-25F turbofan engines with afterburners. It is worth noting, that China signed a contract with Ukraine for delivery of 1,920 of these engines for the L-15 trainer. Delivery is scheduled until 2041.
The L-15 has secondary light attack capability. It has four underwing and two wingtip hardpoints to carry various weapons, including short-range air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, bombs and rocket pods.
This aircraft features a number of advanced technologies such as digital fly-by-wire, hands on throttle and stick controls. It also has good aerodynamic performance.
L-15 Falcon Cockpit
The L-15 Falcon is more advanced in terms of technology comparing with the JL-9, however it is also more expensive to produce. If this aircraft is chosen by the PLAAF, first operational trainers will become available as early as 2008. The L-15 is also proposed for the export customers.
Therefore L-15 can also be converted into a light ground attack role if needed. Some specifications of L-15: normal TO weight 6,500kg, max TO weight 9,500kg, max speed 0.95/1.4 Mach, max climb rate 150m/s, g-load +8/-3, ceiling 13,000m, loitering time 2 hr, max range 2,600km, structural life 10,000 hr. It features a small PESA radar developed by the 607 Institute (range ~75km)
- People’s Liberation Army Air Force (First batch of L-15 is commissioned in a training center of PLAAF in EAST of China, quantity is uncertain based from public information)
In November 2012, an order for twelve L-15s by an unknown customer was announced. They are due to be delivered in 2013. This batch of L-15 is begun to be handed over to the customer on June 29, 2013.
- Zambian Air Force – At least 6 were ordered by Zambia in Zhuhhai Air Show, 2012.
- Venezuela Air Force – Venezuela Defense Minister Carmen Meléndez Rivas revealed in April 2014, ordering 24 L-15.
Pakistan are interested in acquiring this aircraft to train its fighter pilots.
Ukraine is considering local production of the L-15.
Uruguay was invited to evaluate the aircraft, in an invitation extended by CATIC to the FAU command to form a committee including Air Marshall W. Martínez and staff. The invitation was coordinated for October 2011.
Data from Military-Today L-15
- Crew: 2
- Length: 12.27 m (40.256 feet)
- Wingspan: 9.48 m (31.1 feet)
- Height: 4.81 m (15.78 feet)
- Empty weight: 4,500 kg (9,920 lb)
- Loaded weight: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 9,500 kg (20,900 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Ivchenko Progress AI-222K-25 for AJT model, Ivchenko Progress AI-222K-25F afterburning turbofans for LIFT model
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.4 (924.1 mph)
- Combat radius: Over 550+ km (More than 340+ miles)
- Ferry range: 3,100 km (1926 miles)
- Service ceiling: 16,000 m (52500 feet)
- Rate of climb: >200 m/s (afterburning) (>39370 ft/min)
- Unknown PESA radar (developed by the 607 Institute (range ~75km))
Source: Military Today, Wiki, Chinese Military Aviation