Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is using the Paris show to make the international debut of an upgraded version of the Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros advanced trainer.
The upgrade has been developed by IAI's Lahav division and builds on Lahav's work upgrading USAF Northrop T-38 Talon advanced trainers and Spanish air force Northrop F-5B lead-in fighter trainers, says the division. The company also has experience with Soviet-era fast jets - the Czech-designed L-39 was the Eastern Bloc's standard advanced trainer - andis providing a package for the MiG-21 fighter.
Lahav says it has identified the trainer upgrade as a key market, adding that the number of L-39s inservice make it an attractive proposition to offer a modification package. Flight International's Military Aircraft Census 2003 suggests there are around 2,000 L-39s remaining in-service. Lahav, with Ukrainian company AVIRS, upgraded a single Ukrainian air force L-39 last year, presenting it at a local show in September 2002.
"We took the Spanish F-5 package and built a demonstrator", says a Lahav spokesman. To reduce the demonstrator's cost, however, the aircraft has only one multifunction display retaining traditional basic flight instruments that would be replaced by an electronic display in a full upgrade. The demonstrator has also been fitted with a head-up display.
Meanwhile, Lahav has proposed a virtual radar system for Royal Australian Air Force BAE Systems Hawks, with the UK-built advanced trainer being a contender for a Lahav programme. "We will look at the Hawk for sure," says the company, adding that it would also like to work with Aermacchi to offer upgrades for its jet trainers.