AMX fighter bid for Afghanistan faces competition from Czech L-159

Washington DC
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The US Air Force anticipates receiving a second unsolicited proposal for a potential light attack fighter requested by the Afghan National Army Air Corps.

A pending proposal based on the jet-powered Aero Vodochody L-159 will compete against an unsolicited offer to sell surplus Italian air force Alenia/Embraer AMX fighters already presented by Alenia Aeronautica, says Col Brad Grambo, commander of the USAF's 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.

Aero Vodochody has for several years been seeking to sell 48 L-159s that have been deemed surplus to requirements by the Czech air force, but it was not immediately clear which company is the source of the proposal to Afghanistan. "We can confirm that Aero is interested and aware of the transaction, nevertheless we are not entitled to provide any further information at this stage," says the company's owner, Penta Investments.

 aero vodochody
© Aero Vodochody
The L-159 is in Czech air force service

The Afghan National Army Air Corps is considering both jet- and turboprop-powered aircraft for a requirement to stand-up a light attack fighter force by 2013, says Maj Gen Mohammad Dawran.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Alenia delivery ceremony for Afghanistan's first of 18 modernised G222 tactical transports on 25 September, Grambo said he would prefer the USAF to provide a jet fighter to Afghanistan, due to size of the country.

"It's a country the size of Texas," Grambo says. "How are you going to cover that with a [turboprop] aircraft that cruises around at 200-250kt [370-460km/h]?"

In addition to ground attack and close air support missions, the light attack fighter also must be capable of providing an air defence capability, Grambo says.

The US Central Command has forwarded the requirement for the Afghan light attack fighter to the USAF acquisition system, he says.