The first of four L-159T1 trainers in preparation for the Czech air force performed its flight debut from Aero Vodochody’s Lkvo airport site near Prague on 8 March, reaching a maximum altitude of 33,000ft (10,100m).

The two-seat aircraft incorporates a new main fuselage but re-uses the wing and tail from a surplus Czech air force L-159A advanced light combat aircraft. The service received a total of 72 L-159As between 1999 and 2004, but now operates a frontline fleet of just 24 of the aircraft.

To be delivered to Caslav airbase – also home to the Czech air force’s Saab Gripen fighters – later this year, the service’s four L-159T1s are being modified under a June 2006 contract. This is intended to enhance air force training capabilities, but will also support Penta-owned Aero Vodochody’s efforts to export additional surplus L-159As. The manufacturer says the L-159T1 is now ready to commence development testing.

© Aero Vodochody