First flying in 1997, the L-159A Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA) is a single-engine subsonic combat aircraft which was developed from the L-59 Super Albatross trainer. Locally developed in the Czech Republic by Aero Vodochody as a domestic low cost fighter to replace a number of Soviet-era types in Air Force service, namely the MiG-23BN, Su-22 and Su-25. A two-seat trainer version designated as the L-159B was also developed, this was later developed into the L-159T1 for Iraq. The L-159 has not been an export success and has only been ordered by the Czech Republic and Iraq. A number of L-159s which were retired by or in storage with the Czech Air Force have been sold to private military contractors to provide aggressor air services as the L-159E. This includes to Draken International who use a fleet of L-159Es based at Teesside airport to provide aggressor air services to the RAF. Draken calls the L-159E the Honey Badger.
The Czech Air Force initially ordered 72 aircraft but made a decision to only operate a fleet of 24 aircraft, placing the rest into storage or selling them to private operators. All L-159A's currently in service have recently been upgraded to PP16 specification allowing the pilots to use Night Vision Goggles. In addition to a small fleet of L-159T1 and L-159T1+ two seat trainers (the latter having the same combat capability as the L-159A), the Czech Air Force currently fly a fleet of 16 L-159A ALCAs.
The Czech Air Force will provide one ALCA for static display at RIAT 2023.
Photo Credit: Peter March
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