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Defence News 05/05/2017
China's Hongdu rolls out L-15B lead-in fighter trainer

China's Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG) has unveiled a new variant of its L-15A (also known as the JL-10) advanced jet trainer (AJT)/light attack aircraft, according to Chinese media reports.

A prototype of the new twin-seat, lead-in fighter-trainer (LIFT), known as the L-15B, was rolled out at the company's headquarters in Nanchang, the capital of the southeastern Chinese province of Jiangxi, on 1 May.

The aircraft can also be used in the air defence and air-to-ground attack roles, according to the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC).

Chinese media reports claim that the new variant will not only be more combat capable but also better equipped than the L-15A AJT, thus enabling it to compete with other advanced trainers such as the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 combat-capable LIFT.

The new variant differs from the L-15A in that it is powered by two afterburning turbofans with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), most likely to be the Ivchenko-Progress AI-222-25F, enabling the aircraft to reach a top speed of 1,200 km/h at sea level, according to Jane's All the World's Aircraft: Development & Production.

The L-15B also differs from the AJT variant in that it has an extended nose section housing a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar with a reported 75 km range, and an electronic systems structure, which is most likely to be a radar warning receiver (RWR), located atop the vertical stabiliser.

The aircraft's nose also features fin antennas for what is likely to be an identification friend or foe (IFF) system.

According to CATIC, the L-15B also has nine weapon hardpoints and attachments for a 3.5-tonne payload.

A 2 May report published on the Chinese website states that the aircraft's wingtip mounts are strong enough to carry heavy short-range air-to-air missiles (AAMs) such as the infrared/helmet-sighted Luoyang Electro-Optical Research Institute's PL-9C AAM.

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