China's AVIC Defence has developed a version of its L-15 advanced jet trainer with an afterburner, upgraded cockpit and radar.
The company announced the upgraded aircraft, the L-15 Lift, at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition. The new version had its first flight on 20 October.
"The L-15 Lift is a new generation supersonic advanced trainer developed by AVIC Hongdu to meet lead-in fighter training requirements, on the basis of the L-15 trainer," the company says.
The L-15 Lift uses a Ukrainian-made afterburning turbofan with full authority digital engine control software. This provides a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1:1, allowing the aircraft to hit supersonic speeds.
The L-15 Lift uses a Ukrainian-made afterburning turbofan
AVIC says the new engine, in addition to relaxed stability, means the L-15 Lift can "reach or even exceed" the manoeuvrability of third-generation fighters.
Presenting the new aircraft at the show, AVIC, without disclosing specifics, said the L-15 Lift's climb rate is comparable with aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-16 or Dassault Mirage 2000.
The L-15's fuselage has also been enlarged to accommodate a phased array radar. As for the cockpit, the L-15 Lift has a head-up display and three multifunction displays in the forward seat, and three displays in the rear. This compares with just two multifunction displays for each pilot in a AJT version.
In another change, the new design's tail and flaps are also made from composite materials.
If orders are forthcoming, the L-15 Lift could be delivered in two years. "We will be very competitive in price compared with similar trainers," says AVIC.
The new aircraft, which performed a flying display at the show, will compete directly with advanced jet trainers such as the Yakovlev Yak-130 and Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed T-50.