Warplanes: August 8, 2001

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The Czech Air Force is already operating 20 of the 72 L-159 light attack planes it has on order; the remainder should arrive by mid-2003. These are single-seat aircraft based on the L-59 trainer; there is a rear cockpit but it contains a fuel tank rather than a seat. The Czechs are considering the idea of producing the last few aircraft as two-seaters for training. The aircraft has seven weapons rails, and can carry a variety of Western ordnance including Maverick air-to-ground missiles and (on two rails) AIM-120 AMRAAMS. The aircraft uses a Western engine (a Honeywell F124-GA-100 turbofan) and electronics (heads up display, GPS, ring-laser gyros, and multi-mode radars.) All of the equipment is compatible with NATO. While the aircraft is subsonic, the Czechs are so happy with it that they are actively considering it as a replacement for their MiG-21s.--Stephen V Cole

 


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