Czech aircraft maker Aero Vodochody has signed a contract to sell 12 L-39NG jet trainers to Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defence.
“The contract includes the acquisition of 12 L-39NG aircraft, plus the training of pilots, instructors, ground crew, and mechanics. Also included will be the supply of aircraft spare parts, as well as the supply of equipment for ground-based training, logistics support, or specialised airport systems. This will give the customer the capability of complete pilot and ground crew training,” Omnipol said.
The value of the deal, which includes training, spare components and related logistics support, was not disclosed. The sale includes a range of related services such as pilot and instructor training, spares, as well as ground and logistical support equipment, the company said.
The L-39NG was first rolled out by Aero in October 2018, with flights trials concluding in early 2020.
The L-39NG features a more powerful Williams International FJ44-4M engine, a wet wing, a modern cockpit, and a lighter airframe than its predecessor. In the light strike role, it is equipped with five hardpoints (compared with two for the baseline L-39) for a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles (AAMs), as well as other munitions and sensors.
It also introduces the option for a gun pod. According to Janes All the World’s Aircraft: Development and Production, the L-39NG has a top speed of 420 kt, a payload of 1,200 kg, an endurance of 4 hours and 30 minutes, a range of 1,400 n miles, and a service ceiling of 38,000 ft. It is reported to cost less than USD10 million to procure.
The Czech Ministry of Defence certified the jet trainer last September, paving the way for the L-39NG’s exports.
The move followed about 300 test flights on two flying prototypes and ground tests on two static prototypes, according to the producer. Since then, Aero Vodochody has managed to secure a contract to deliver four such aircraft in a light-attack variant to Senegal’s Air Force.
Omnipol is a minority shareholder in Aero Vodochody, with a 49 percent stake. Hungarian businessman Andras Tombor holds the remaining 51 percent of the shares.
The Vietnam People’s Air Force or VPAF currently operates older versions of the L-39, with an estimated two dozen aircraft still in service.
The announcement that Vietnam will acquire the L-39NG comes after the country ordered a similar number of Yak-130 jet trainers from Russia in early 2020. A news segment on Russian state TV from January showed a Yak-130 for Vietnam on the production floor of the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, which produces the jets.
It is likely that the VPAF will operate the L-39NG as a basic jet trainer, with the higher-performance Yak-130 acting as an advanced jet or lead-in fighter trainer.