China Unveils new Attack L-15B Jet Trainer Variant
China's Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation has rolled out a new attack version of the L-15 Falcon advanced jet trainer, called the L-15B. The new variant was unveiled at the company's headquarter in Nanchang, the capital of the southeastern Chinese province of Jiangxi, on Monday.
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The L-15B is an upgraded version of the L-15 lead-in fighter-trainer (LIFT) variant used by the People's Liberation Army Air Force and People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force. Unlike the standard L-15 standard version, the L-15B features the Ukrainian Ivchenko-Progress afterburning AI-222K-25F turbofan, which gives it a supersonic speed of Mach 1.4, the AIN Online reported.
It is also equipped with an on-board radar, a self-defense complex, an armament management complex, and has up to 11 hardpoints. It also has identification friend or foe antennas that are similar to those of the F-16 and F-18 fighters and a radar warning receiver on the vertical stabilizer.
The L-15B could carry a maximum takeoff weight of 11.6 metric tons and an operational range of 2,600 kilometers. It has a bigger nose, where a homegrown passive electronically scanned array multi-functional radar with a range of 75 km can be found.
The aircraft could be used in the air defense and air-to-ground attack roles. Sample weapon configuration for the L-15B includes PL-12 radar-guided beyond visual range missiles, LT-2 laser guided bombs, and a centerline cannon pod.
Local Chinese media said that the L-15B has replaced the Arinc 429 data bus standard in favor of the Chinese HB6096-SZ-01 standard. Furthermore, the new variant will not only be more combat ready but is also more equipped than the L-15A AJT, making it more competitive with other advanced trainers like the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 combat-capable LIFT.