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L-15 / JL-15 "Falcon" lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) - Design
L-15A / JL-10 advanced jet trainer (AJT)

The L15 (also known as "Falcon") aircraft is a new generation of dual-issue supersonic advanced trainer independently developed by the aviation industry Hongdu. It was the first flight in March 2006. The aircraft has a typical third-generation fighter feature. The design uses a large-wing aerodynamic layout, a high-wing wing fuse structure, an advanced digital flight control telex system and an integrated avionics system based on an open data master route technology.

The domestically developed L-15 has two engines, a streamlined aerodynamic design and integrated avionics. The L-15 has two types - one for advanced jet training and the other for lead-in fighter training. Trainer jets for advanced application teach student pilots how to operate supersonic aircraft and how to carry out sophisticated aerial maneuvers, while those for lead-in fighter training are enhanced versions of advanced jet models and focus on familiarizing trainees with combat maneuvers and skills. The L-15 has a maximum speed of 1,200 kilometers per hour and a maximum flight range of 2,600 km.

Before the L-15, the PLA Navy lacked a third-generation trainer aircraft, so it had to rely on its second-generation JJ-7 trainer jet and that aircraft's upgraded version, the JL-9, to conduct advanced training for student pilots.

The two-engine, two-seat JL-15 reportedly features the latest advanced technologies such as digital quadruple fly-by-wire (FBW), glass cockpit, and hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) flight control. Advanced features such as glass cockpit, HOTAS and digital FBW were expected to be standard. In addition, large leading edge extentions (LEX) similar to those on Russian Yak-130 advanced trainer would give the aircraft a decent angle of attack (AOA). The aerodynamic performance of the aircraft is enhanced by its large leading edge extensions (LEX) design, which gives a maximum angle of attack of 30. This is very useful when trying to simulate the maneuvers of advanced fourth-generation fighters such as J-10 and J-11.

The first unit (L-15-01) is powered by two ZMKB-Progress (Lotarev) DV-2F which gave it good manuverabillity and reliability. The subsequent production units were expected to be powered by Ukraine's Ivchenko-Progress AL-222K-25F turbofan engines with afterburner once co-production license is obtained by the 618 Institute.

With the JL-15, student pilots will be able to complete mission flight training and advanced combat training for fourth-generation fighters such as J-10 and J-11, as well as complete all basic jet flight training courses. The aircraft also has six (four under-wing and two wingtip) pylons to carry various air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. If necessary, it can serve in the lightweight attack role with minor modifications.

Currently, a Navy flight student will fly the CJ-6 pistonengine basic trainer, followed by the JL-8 intermediate trainer jet. When pilots begin the advanced training stage, both the JJ-7 and JL-9 will be used to simulate real fighter aircraft. The use of the L-15 will help shorten the time required for Navy aviators' training before they become qualified to operate modern fighter jets. The trainer jet will be especially useful for carrier-based pilots.

The jet trainer has high mobility and agility, and can take sharp 30-degree turns in attack mode. The airplane can be used for basic flight training or coming up with new flying tactics. It is designed for training pilots of J-10 and J-11 planes.

In May 2017 China's Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG) unveiled a new variant of its L-15A (also known as the JL-10) advanced jet trainer (AJT)/light attack aircraft. Chinese media reports claimed that the new variant will not only be more combat capable but also better equipped than the L-15A AJT, thus enabling it to compete with other advanced trainers such as the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 combat-capable LIFT.

The aircraft has a typical third-generation fighter feature, designed with a large-wing aerodynamic layout, a high-wing wing fuse structure, an advanced digital flight control telex system and an integrated avionics system based on open data master route technology. The large angle of attack is highly maneuverable and can fully meet the combat entry training and tactical basic modification training of the third generation fighter pilots. The design life of the aircraft is up to 10,000 hours, which has a high training cost-effective ratio.

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