Ukraine has signed a framework agreement with China, pertaining procurement of the Hongdu L-15 Falcon jet-trainers. The production process related to these jets is planned to take place in Ukraine. The aircraft is going to be powered by the AI-222-25F engines, manufactured by the Zaporozhye based Motor Sich facility.
Negotiations related to procurement and production of this type of aircraft in Ukraine have been in process for several years now. According to the initial plans, the deliveries for the Ukrainian Air Force were to start in 2016. According to the “Dumskaya” Ukrainian media outlet, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence has already signed the initial agreement, the main condition of which assumes that L-15 jets are going to be license-manufactured at the Odessa based Odesaviaremservis facility. At the moment, both the value of the deal, as well as the number of jets to be procured, have not yet been released to the public. The Ukrainian Air Force urgently needs to acquire advanced jet trainers and light combat aircraft.
Hongdu L-15 is a supersonic twin-seater aircraft, capable of reaching speeds of Ma 1.4, with operational ceiling of 50 000 feet. The powerplant consists of two Ukrainian AI-22K-25F jet engines with afterburners, manufactured by the Motor Sich company, with 4200 kilograms of thrust each. More powerful AI-222-29F (4500 kilograms of thrust) and AI-222-30F (5000 kilograms of thrust) jet engines have also been designed. The plans assume that these engines could be used in the L-15 jets which may increase the weight of the carried payload, and they may have a positive impact on the performance of the aircraft.
L-15 Falcon trainer may also be used as a light attack aircraft, with six hardpoints enabling the jet to carry the armament. The jet is capable of using bombs, guided and unguided air-to-surface missiles and air-to-air missiles, with a maximum total weight of 3 tonnes. The Ukrainian Air Force is in need of such aircraft, due to the possibility of using them in combat against the separatists. The need is even more urgent in the light of the fact that the L-39 trainers are gradually reaching the end of their service lives.