Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

THE LITHUANIAN air force is pushing for funding to buy eight new L-39 Albatros jet trainers from Czech manufacturer Aero Vodochody.

According to Aero Vodochody president and chief executive Zdenek Chalupnik, the company is now making efforts to find a financing package to allow the cash-strapped former-Soviet republic to proceed with the procurement.

Sources close to the Lithuanian military say that trials of the aircraft have been carried out in the country, which led to a proposal to purchase eight aircraft for $1.6 million each. The deal remains in limbo, however, until financing has been arranged.

The Lithuanian air force already operates four L-39s in the training and light-attack role. These aircraft were acquired secondhand from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. The country also operates Antonov An-2s, An-24s and An-26s in the transport role, as well as three Mil Mi-8 helicopters.

Following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the country, Lithuania plans to develop a force consisting of two transport and two fighter squadrons.

Meanwhile, the preliminary-design review (PDR) of the Aero Vodochody L-159 light-attack aircraft has been completed in California by the Rockwell Aerospace-led team developing the major systems for the Czech-made aircraft.

The PDR, which involved suppliers and engineers from Aero Vodochody, " us the go-ahead to work towards the critical-design review in the second quarter of 1996, which will be when we freeze the cockpit design and the display graphics", says William Lucas, international aircraft programmes business-development manager for Rockwell North American Aircraft.

Rockwell is leading the cockpit working group, producing the avionics software and performing all the integration work for the programme. "Bench testing will be undertaken in the Czech Republic," says Lucas. Other members of the avionics team include head-up-display (HUD) supplier Flight Visions, which is providing the FV3000 computer and Sparrow Hawk HUD-based weapons-delivery system.

AlliedSignal is supplying the head-down displays, Honeywell the inertial-navigation system, and Dynamic Controls provides the stores-management system. GEC-Marconi of the UK is providing the Sky Guardian defensive suite and Italian manufacturer FIAR is supplying its Grifo radar system.

Source: Flight International