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24 November 2003. The Czech Republic’s newest jet fighter trainer is aiming to make an impressive debut and win export orders in the Middle East for the first time at Dubai 2003, the eighth international aerospace exhibition being held next month.

AERO Vodochody’s L159B Albatros II will be put through its paces in the daily flying displays. Pilots from the UAE Air Force evaluated the aircraft earlier this year.

The aim of the Czech jet, which can also be equipped to fly combat missions is to catch the eye of other Middle East air force chiefs in the market for an advanced fast jet to train front line fighter pilots.

“The Albatros II is brand new and flew for the first time just 16 months ago. It made its air show debut at Farnborough and most recently in the skies at the Paris air show. We are sure it will be just as impressive when it makes its Middle East debut at Dubai 2003,” said Viktor Kucera, VP Marketing, Sales, AERO Vodochody a.s.

The company says it’s in an advanced stage of negotiations with several potential customers. Pilots from the Polish, Slovak, Hungarian and Indian air arms have also had a chance to see how good the aircraft is.

A big rival is the British Hawk. BAE Systems recently won a $1.7 billion deal to supply 66 aircraft to the Indian Air Force after a marathon contest in which the Albatros II was seen as a cut-price contender. The Hawk will also be at Dubai 2003 from December 7-11.

The twin seat Czech jet has been built with a big dose of American help. Boeing is the leading international partner with a 35% share and avionics integrator. US industrial giant Honeywell produces the turbo-fan engine and numerous components for aircraft systems. Aero Vodochody says the programme is open to local partners and various offset programmes are on offer to potential customers.

The L159B is the latest product from the L-39/59/159 aircraft family which has continuously evolved over the last 30 years. The L159 is the single seat version ALCA – Advanced Light Combat Aircraft currently in service with the Czech Air Force.

“Two closely related planes can cover both combat missions and training needs. Aero believes that in a world, which is no longer dominated by two superpowers, where there is a wide range of military threats, the L159 family can meet the requirements of countries that wish to build modern, balanced and affordable military forces,” Kucera added.

The manufacturers say the primary objective of the L159B programme is delivery of a “Total Training System”. The Albatros II features many technological advances not found in competitor aircraft such as Open Systems Architecture avionics or latest generation of military turbofan engine.

“But the L159B can be also used for various combat missions. With the weapon control systems, countermeasures and/or target acquisition sensors, the L159B can be deployed to carry out air-to-air, air-to-ground and tactical air reconnaissance missions,” said Kucera.
The L159B Albatros is one of 73 aircraft so far registered for Dubai 2003 – the largest number at any Dubai air show. Some 23 aircraft are due to take part in the daily flying display.
“The competition of trainer aircraft is intense throughout the wider Middle East hence a number of variations will be at the show,” said Clive Richardson, Chief Executive, Aerospace Group, Fairs and Exhibitions (F&E), which organises the show.


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