Czech President Petr Pavel has mentioned the possibility of providing Ukraine with L-159 light attack aircraft, which would be useful in a roul of close air support aircraft, particularly during the future counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This is reported by Ceske Noviny.
The Czech L-159 light attack aircraft, produced by Aero Vodochody, is the culmination of the development of a family of aircraft that originated from the L-39 "Albatros", as even the advanced F/A-259 was developed based on this light attack aircraft.
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However, unlike the base L-39 or the L-59 aircraft, which can combine the role of a trainer and a light attack aircraft, the L-159A has a cockpit for only one pilot, and the training two-seat version L-159T is manufactured by retrofitting the L-159A.
Overall, the aircraft's airframe has essentially been reworked. The L-159 features structural reinforcement, a replacement of the AI-25 engine with a more powerful Honeywell/ITEC F124 engine with 28 kN instead of 16.9 kN. However, as always, the main changes are on the inside.
The aircraft features an integrated FIAR Grifo L family of radars from Italian company Leonardo, as well as the ability to install the Litening container for the use of high-precision armaments with semi-active laser guidance. And overall, all avionics have been replaced, and it's essentially a digital cockpit, of course. And this means that many updated components can be replaced according to the customer's wishes.
The L-159 has 7 hardpoints, one under the fuselage supports the installation of the Litening container. The combat load can reach up to 2.4 tons, including suspended containers with aviation guns, unguided or guided bombs of types GBU-12 and GBU-16, JDAM,AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles or AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles. The combat range is up to 790 km, and the maximum flight speed is up to 920 km/h.
The Czech L-159 was developed in the 1990s following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and was adopted by the Czech Air Force in 2001. The aircraft was designed as a light attack jet for low-intensity conflicts. Interestingly, the L-159 has already seen combat in this role, serving with the Iraqi Air Force against ISIS militants from 2015-2022.
The L-159 is currently only in service with the Czech Republic (16 L-159A attack jets and 8 two-seaters L-159T1 and L-159T2 training/combat variants), Iraq (10 L-159A attack jets and 1 L-159T1 two-seater), and the private military company Draken International (24 L-159A aircraft in service, with 4 more used for spare parts).
Despite Ukraine's need to update not only its fighter fleet but also its assault aviation, it makes sense for Czech President Petr Pavel to offer L-159s to Ukraine. However, there are some nuances to consider, such as the ability to equip guided weapons under the L-159A's declared combat load, as well as the training time required for Ukrainian pilots to master the aircraft's onboard equipment and powerplant, which is vastly different from that of the basic L-39C.