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Pakistan in Negotiations with China to Acquire FLIT/LCA, Hongdu L-15

The L-15 aircraft, developed by China's Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation, is designed to provide advanced training for pilots of fourth and fifth-generation fighter aircraft, in addition to carrying out combat missions such as air combat, air strikes, air reconnaissance, and Forward Air Control missions.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Pakistan is reportedly in negotiations with China to acquire a number of Hongdu L-15 light combat aircraft, intended to replace the aging Chinese-made J-7G light fighter jets currently in use by the Pakistan Air Force.

The news of Pakistan potentially acquiring the Hongdu L-15 light fighter aircraft may come as a surprise, considering the country already possesses the JF-17 “Thunder” light combat aircraft, a joint development with China.

The Hongdu L-15 aircraft can also serve as a Fighter Lead-In Trainer (FLIT) or an advanced training aircraft before pilots transition to operational fighter aircraft.

 However, there is speculation suggesting that the Hongdu L-15 aircraft could be intended to replace Pakistan’s aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

The L-15 aircraft is developed by Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation. China is the largest weapons supplier to Pakistan, a key ally in South Asia.

Last year, China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) announced a contract with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government for the sale of 12 Hongdu L-15 aircraft to the wealthy Gulf nation, with an option for the UAE to acquire an additional 36 L-15 aircraft.L-15

Regional defense analysts view the acquisition of the L-15 light fighter and training aircraft as significant, marking the first instance where the UAE, a close ally of the United States in the Gulf region, has purchased military equipment from China.

The L-15 aircraft is designed to provide advanced training for pilots of fourth and fifth-generation fighter aircraft, as well as perform combat missions such as air combat, air strikes, air reconnaissance, and Forward Air Control missions.

“Much has changed since the L-15 was introduced to the public in 2009. Now, with its aerodynamic design and advanced avionics capabilities, this aircraft provides true fighter capabilities,” according to an official from China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Technology (CATIC).

Recent enhancements to the L-15 include state-of-the-art training and mission planning systems, along with the integration of a 23mm cannon, small diameter bombs, short and medium-range air-to-air guided missiles, and laser-guided bombs weighing 250kg and 500kg.

The estimated cost for an L-15 aircraft ranges between US$10 million to US$15 million each (RM40 million to RM60 million).

L-15

The supersonic L-15B “Falcon” prototype, developed by Hongdu and based in Nanchang, made its first flight in 2006, powered by two engines manufactured by the Ukrainian company “Ivchenko-Progress,” the AL-222 turbofans.

The L-15B is designed with features typical of fourth-generation aircraft, including a glass cockpit with multi-function displays, HOTAS controls, and others to train Chinese Air Force pilots for more advanced fighter aircraft such as the Su-30, Su-35, J-10, J-16, and J-20.

With its two Ukrainian-made turbofan engines, the Chinese L-15B can achieve speeds of up to 1.4 Mach, while the aircraft’s operational radius is approximately 3,100 km (depending on its payload. The heavier the payload, the shorter the operational range of the aircraft).

The current L-15B aircraft equips seven Chinese Air Force FLIT/LCA squadrons and is equipped with a “Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA)” radar, enabling it to detect both air and ground targets at a range of about 111 km.

The Chinese-made FLIT/LCA aircraft is also said to have the capability to carry air-to-air guided missiles such as PL-10 (short-range) and PL-12 Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles capable of engaging air targets up to 62 miles away. — DSA

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