China's latest aerospace export candidate - the L-15 Falcon advanced jet trainer - will be on full display at the Dubai air show, a rare glimpse of the supersonic aircraft outside its home country.
The L-15, a product of Hongdu Aviation and a lookalike of the Yakovlev Yak-130, is making the rounds of major air shows seeking its first export order. Its appearance in Dubai follows the two-seat jet's debut at the MAKS air show in Moscow three months ago.
Since entering flight-testing in 2006, the L-15 has been linked to sales discussions in China, Russia and Venezuela. The Middle East could prove fertile ground for potential sales. Jordan, in particular, is looking for a new lead-in trainer as it receives upgraded F-16s. Recent F-16 fighter sales in Oman, and requirements for new fighters in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar also could attract interest in China's L-15.
The L-15 that joins the flying display in Dubai is likely to be one of the first three prototypes powered by the ZMKB Progress DV-2 engine. Hongdu has selected Ukraine's Ivchenko-Progress AI-222-25F engine for production versions.
As Hongdu travels to the Middle East seeking export orders, the status of the L-15 inside China remains uncertain.
The L-15 is competing with the Guizhou Aircraft Industry JL-9 to win a contract to supply and advanced lead-in jet trainer for the Chinese air force.
Perhaps seeking to mitigate the risk of a contract loss, Hongdu has started publicly discussing new variants of the L-15, including one-seat, armed and naval versions.