UAE Receives First Batch Of Chinese L-15 Falcons

UAE’s L-15 spotted within China prior to delivery missing the aircraft’s serial number. (Photo @蓝昌好崽哩 from Weibo)

The first pair of Chinese Hongdu L-15A Falcons have been delivered to the UAE Air Force.

On Oct. 6, 2023, images of UAE’s first batch of L-15A’s have emerged on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The UAE government has previously signed a deal with Chinese aircraft manufacturer Hongdu on Feb. 21, 2023, at the Abu Dhabi International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDES) to buy 12 L-15A advanced jet trainers. It appears that in nine months the first batch of the Chinese aircraft have arrived in the country. The pair of L-15As took off from Xinjian, China on a ferry flight with a single layover in Pakistan for refuelling on Monday.

The two aircraft in question (#64 and #65) are thought to have been donning a special livery in preparation for the upcoming 18th Dubai Air Show next week. Sources say that one of the aircraft will be on static display whilst the other will be performing aerobatics at the airshow.

UAE has ordered 12 L-15A trainer jets earlier this year with up to 36 additional aircraft as an option.

While the official document signed in February of this year confirmed the purchase of 12 of the aircraft, the UAE government still has intentions to buy up to 36 additional aircraft, allowing for a potential training fleet of up to 48.

The aircraft in question is an advanced jet trainer made by the Chinese firm Hongdu. The aircraft was developed with assistance from the Russian company Yakolev as a replacement of the PLAAF JL-9 back in 2006. Locally the L-15 is known as the JL-10 in the Chinese air force. While the later L-15B has the afterburning variants of the Ukrainian made AI-222K-25F turbofan engines, as pictured above the L-15A have the non-afterburning variant and consequently lack supersonic capabilities. While currently the L-15As are being supplied with Ukrainian engines that remains in Hongdu’s stock, it is expected that the engines will soon be produced locally in China due to the two nation’s political ties suffering since the recent Ukrainian conflict.

About Wonwoo Choi
Wonwoo is a student journalist and contributor to The Aviationist based in London, United Kingdom. Currently studying MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a keen interest in OSINT, plane spotting and aircraft design. He is a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Army, having served as an artillery Fire Direction Centre Vehicle Radio Operator.