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UAE to buy Chinese jet trainer aircraft

Known as the JL-10 in China's People's Liberation Army Air Force and People's Liberation Army Navy, the L-15 is to be acquired by the UAE, which was announced on 23 February. (PLAAF)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to acquire advanced jet trainer aircraft from China, under a deal announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 23 February.

The deal signed between the MoD and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) will see the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (AFAD) receive 12 AVIC Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industry L-15 aircraft, with options for a further 36 to follow.

“We have reached the final stage in our talks with the Chinese side. The final contract will be signed soon,” Tareq Abdulraheem Al Hosani, CEO of Tawazun Economic Council, said, noting that the deal is part of a wider drive by the UAE to diversify its portfolio of defence equipment.

With the contract signature still pending, the announcement did not disclose a value or delivery timeline for the aircraft.

The twin-seat, twin-engined, supersonic L-15 shares its heritage with the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 ‘Mitten', which in turn shares its heritage with the Leonardo M-346 Master. It also has a secondary light-attack role. The MoD did not say if the UAE AFAD intends to operate the aircraft in its primary trainer or secondary light-attack role, or both.

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