ABU DHABI, ($1=3.67 Emirati Dirhams) — 12 Chinese light combat and training aircraft Hongdu JL-10 also known as L-15 Falcon are in the final phase of an agreement between Abu Dhabi and Beijing for sale, BulgarianMilitary.com has learned, citing Al Jazeera. In the coming years, the UAE will have the option to purchase another 36 units of the same model fighter jet, Arab media said.
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The news was announced by the UAE Ministry of Defense in late February and confirmed by the Emir News Agency WAM. “The final agreement … will be signed soon,” said Tarek Al-Hosani, chief executive of the Tawazun Economic Council, the Emirates’ defense and security body. The value of the deal was not disclosed.
The UAE has been trying to bolster its defenses amid a series of attacks by Yemeni rebels in recent months. Abu Dhabi is still awaiting a deal to acquire a US fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jet. BulgarianMilitary.com reminds us that the deal is “temporarily frozen” by the White House. Democrats are trying to halt the deal because of the UAE’s partial involvement in the Yemeni war.
The United States will certainly not like the acquisition of Chinese light warplanes. “We are trying to develop our defense capabilities and achieve strategic priorities,” Tawazun said. The UAE currently operates American F-16s and French Mirages. Last year, Abu Dhabi ordered French fighters from Dassault Rafale.
The Hongdu JL-10 or L-15 Falcon is a Chinese supersonic advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft. It was officially introduced by China nearly 12 years ago, until the first flight of the aircraft in 2006.
The aircraft was developed by the Chinese company Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation. The UAE is the newest customer of the L-15 Falcon, before which the aircraft served the air forces of the People’s Republic of China, Zambia, and Ethiopia. Pakistan, Uruguay, and Bolivia have in recent years asked to acquire this light fighter jet, but negotiations are still underway.
The aircraft consists of two crew members. Its length is 12.27 meters, and with outstretched wings, it is nearly 9.5 meters wide. Depending on the modification, this aircraft uses two different engines – either 2 x Ivchenko-Progress AI-222K-25 or AI-222-25F after burning turbofan engines.
With a tank filled up with fuel, the plane can travel 550 km. The maximum speed of the L-15 Falcon is 1.4 Mach. It is equipped with PESA radar. The maximum angle of attack is 30 degrees. It can carry approximately 3.5 tons of weapons.
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