Senegal is due to receive four L-39NG jets two years after the contract becomes effective with Czech manufacturer Aero Vodochody, but a delivery date has not been set.
Senegal’s order for the L-39NGs, configured for light attack and training, was announced on 4 April 2018, but an Aero Vodochody spokesperson told defenceWeb that the contract has not yet become effective as details of financing for the purchase are still being negotiated. Once the contract is finalised, deliveries will take place within two years.
The contract covers the training of pilots, including conversion, instructor and combat training, maintenance personnel training, spare parts, ground support equipment and logistic support services. Aero Vodochody said that, after focussing on aerostructures, the Senegalese L-39NG sale represents the first international sale of new aircraft in 20 years.
Senegal’s aircraft will be fitted with AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles for an air-to-air capability. These will be mounted on the wingtips where the fuel tanks of previous L-39 versions were fitted. Senegal’s L-39s will also be fitted with the Elbit Systems Targo II helmet-mounted system.
The L-39NG is the latest iteration of the successful L-39 Albatros trainer. The first prototype L-39NG (7001) is undergoing flight testing. The L-39NG programme started in 2014, with four prototypes being produced. Aero Vodochody in March this year said it expected certification for the Advanced and Basic Trainer configuration in the third quarter of 2020 and for Light Attack a year later.
The aircraft is powered by a single Williams FJ44-4M engine with FADEC control and has five hardpoints for 1 200 kg of weapons (three more than previously). Other changes compared to the standard L-39 are wet wings without wingtip tanks, a 15 000 flight hour service life, lighter and stronger airframe and Health and Usage Monitoring System. The L-39NG uses 50% new parts.
At the moment the Senegalese Air Force doesn’t operate any jet aircraft. Its only ground attack platforms are old Mi-24/35 and Mi-17 helicopters. There were talks with Embraer in 2013, toward purchasing Super Tucano turboprops, but the deal was never finalized and Senegal instead ordered four KT-1 light attack/trainer turboprops from Korea Aerospace Industries. The first two were delivered at the beginning of April and the remaining two are scheduled for delivery by year-end.