ZHUHAI, China — The ninth biennial China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition was full of surprises on its first day, unveiling a variety of new weapon systems and international arms deals.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) revealed plans to fill the first international order for 12 Hongdu-built supersonic L-15 “Hunting Eagle” advanced jet trainers. AVIC did not reveal the identity of the country, but potential customers include Pakistan, Africa and Latin America.
AVIC’s Hongdu Aviation Industry Group and China Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp. signed an agreement during a ceremony on Nov. 13 to begin building the L-15. .
AVIC also announced plans to replace the L-15’s two Ukrainian-built Ivchenko Progress AI-222K-25F engines that power the prototypes with the “Minshan,” a new, indigenous-built twin-spool turbofan engine. AVIC officials claim the engine is an “all-Chinese” engine, but a defense industry source indicates it is based on the Czech DV-2 engine built originally for the L-59 trainer during the Cold War. The L-59 never entered production, but the DV-2 blueprints were obtained by China.
AVIC also revealed plans to develop the L-15 into a target drone. The “Blue Fox” will serve as a high-performance target for air combat weapon tests, ground-to-air defense training.
AVIC’s Guizhou Aircraft Co. has modified its FTC-2000 light multipurpose jet trainer. The FTC-2000G has more hard points, increasing its weapon and sensor pod payload from five to nine. This has increased the weight of the aircraft from a maximum takeoff weight of 9,800 kilograms to 11,000 kilograms. Maximum endurance has been reduced from three hours to two on internal fuel. The length of the aircraft has increased from 14.5 meters to 15.4 meters (exclusive of pilot tube).
Guizhou also displayed a new model of the Harrier III UAV. The medium-to-high altitude UAV is equipped with twin rear propeller engines capable of a cruising speed of 260-320 kilometers per hour for 24 hours. Maximum takeoff weight is 2,000 kilograms, including a payload of between 300 and 700 kilograms. Operational radius of the Harrier III is 200 kilometers.