The training school of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has taken delivery of 12 AVIC L-15 advanced jet trainers.
The PLAN Aviation University in Shandong took “at least” 12 of the twin-engined type at a ceremony last week, reports official state news organ China Daily. The report was also published on official defence ministry sites. A video on Chinese social media shows 12 examples at a delivery ceremony featuring naval personnel.
The report cited a statement from the university, which was formed in 2017 following with the merger of several schools related to the Chinese naval aviation. In addition to providing flight training, it offers courses in engineering, transport, weapons, electronic warfare, and other areas.
Developed by AVIC company Hongdu, the L-15 comes in two variants. The L-15A has non-afterburning Ivchenko Progress AI-222K-25 jet engines, while the L-15B has afterburners on its engines. Which variant the school received is not clear.
The development comes amid Beijing’s general airpower build-up, specifically as it develops air wings for its growing fleet of aircraft carriers.
China has one operational carrier, the Liaoning, which carriers 26 Shenyang J-15s, and up to 14 helicopters. It has launched a second, much updated sister ship designated 001A, but this ship has yet to commence flight operations.
Both of these warships use a ski-jump to launch jets, which limits payload. A third carrier will likely be equipped with electromagnetic launch systems (EMALS), which will allow fighters to be launched with greater payloads. In addition, EMALS would cater to the operation of fixed wing airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft.
Flight International’s World Air Force’s directory shows that the PLAN operates 27 jets in the training role. These include 14 Shenyang JJ-6s, based on China’s J-6 version of the Mikoyan MiG-19, 11 Hongdu JL-8s, and two Guizhou JL-9s.