Eurosatory 2018

Jet contender for close air support [ES18D5]

15 June 2018

Having announced a partnership agreement covering technical and marketing aspects in April, Czech airframer Aero Vodochody and Israel Aerospace Industries announced this week that they would be submitting a version of Aero’s L-159 light combat aircraft for the US Air Force’s OA-X close air support competition. The bid is something of a late entrant, but the companies assert that the L-159 represents a cost-effective and low-risk option.

The US Air Force has concluded the first phase of its Light Attack Experiment, with just the Sierra Nevada/Embraer Super Tucano and Beechcraft AT-6C Wolverine invited to participate in the second phase. Aero and IAI are pitching an advanced version of the L-159, which has seen extensive combat against Daesh forces with Iraq, claiming that the envisaged OA-X role would be better performed with jet-powered aircraft rather than those with turboprops.

Having built 72 L-159s for the Czech air force in the 1990s, many of which were stored due to budgetary cuts and subsequently sold on to Iraq and US-based adversary contractor Draken International, the type is back in low-rate production.

(178 words)