Aero Vodochody has formally unveiled the L-39NG jet trainer and light-attack platform at its production facility near Prague.
The Czech aircraft manufacturer rolled out the latest variant of the L-39 Albatross - in service since the late-1960s - during a ceremony on 12 October.
The milestone comes approximately 15 months after the company began production of the first four aircraft in July 2017. With this official unveiling, flight trials are planned to start soon, Aero president and CEO, Guiseppe Giordo, said at the unveiling.
First launched at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow, the L-39NG version of the L-39 Albatross features a more powerful Williams International FJ44-4M engine, a wet wing, a modern cockpit, and a lighter airframe than its predecessor. 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.
A demonstrator L-39NG flew for the first time in September 2015 ahead of an initial phase of testing that took place in 2016. Certification is expected in 2019, with customer deliveries set to begin in 2020. The aircraft's launch customer is the Czech state-owned company LOM Praha, with the Breitling Jet Team and Draken International's Black Diamond Jet Team also acquiring it.
Aero is also targeting the approximately 60 operators of the L-39 as potential future L-39NG customers. These have included Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya (most of which are believed to have been withdrawn from use), Lithuania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Russia, Slovakia, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, and Vietnam. Giordo noted that he expects the L-39NG to secure "a significant portion" of an expected 3,000-aircraft market during the next 15 years.
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