China’s first jet-powered stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or “Sharp Sword,” was recently spotted undergoing taxiing tests in that country. Analysts interpreted the sighting as indicating that the Lijian’s maiden flight is imminent.
Hongdu Aviation Industry Group
The fatal crash of an Su-27UBK fighter trainer of the China’s People Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in late March has called attention to the lack of advanced jet trainers for pilots of China’s third-generation fighters, the Su-27, J-10 and J-11. But although the L-15 has been under development by Nanchang-based Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), there is no confirmation from within China that the PLAAF has placed a substantial production order.
Bangladesh and Vietnam are close to buying the Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced jet trainer, according to Russia’s weapons exporter, Rosoboronexport, but in other Asian countries the aircraft faces growing competition from China in the form of the Hongdu L-15. “There are no sales prospects for our aircraft in China, because the local engineers have developed their own design. Outwardly, the L-15 bears a distinct resemblance to the Yak-130,” said Sergei Kornev, head of the Rosoboronexport department for aviation.
Two Chinese attack helicopters made their airshow debut during Airshow China at Zhuhai this week. A Z-10 from the Changhe Aircraft Industries Group made a daily flying appearance in its latest configuration. The smaller Z-19 from Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing was shown in public for the first time.
Appearing for the first time outside China, the L-15 Falcon is at Dubai to promote its capabilities here in a region that offers significant market potential for advanced trainers. At the same time, the resurgent AVIC organization is highlighting its ability to provide total training solutions for modern air arms.
The Asian Aerospace show in Hong Kong earlier this month was supposed to be a civil-only event. But the main China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) stand was dominated by a large model of the L15 advanced combat jet trainer. AVIC also released a DVD, which while showing the ARJ21 and MA60 regional passenger transports, was dominated by footage of China’s front-line combat jets.