The Hungarian air force has been handed its first overhauled and upgraded Aero Vodochody L-39ZO Albatros trainer by Danubian Aircraft.

The air force's longer-term hopes of reaching a part exchange deal with Vodochody to swap the aircraft for new-build L-39ZAs appear to have hit financing difficulties, however.

The first upgraded L-390ZO was handed over on 7 April, with another four due by the end of this year and prospects that the air force will eventually overhaul the remainder of its 19-strong fleet of ex-East German air force trainers. The overhaul covers extending the airframe life as well as upgrading the navigation equipment.

The L-39ZO modifications include the removal of Kvant ranging radar while the original Warsaw Pact Khrom identification friend or foe (IFF) system is supplemented by a Bendix IFF. A global positioning system was also installed. The aircraft was delivered to the 3rd Squadron of the Kecskemet based 59th Fighter Wing.

The air force has also been in prolonged discussions with Aero Vodochody over exchanging the aircraft for L-39ZAs. The latter L-39 model is Nato compatible, with upgraded navigation and communications equipment. It also offers a wider weapons choice as well as providing a better training and conversion type for Western combat aircraft.

Source: Flight International