China has sold a number of its L-15 multipurpose combat aircraft to the United Arab Emirates, the Aviation Industry Corp of China said in a news release on Tuesday.
The State-owned defense contractor, the country's dominant aircraft maker, said the L-15 is a new-generation, light combat/training plane that can be used in air and ground attacks and can help train aviators to fly fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets. It features high training efficiency, strong combat power and low operational and maintenance costs.
The version to be delivered to the UAE Air Force will also have aerial refueling capability, according to AVIC.
It did not disclose how many L-15s were ordered, the value of the contract or the delivery plan.
The announcement was the first official confirmation from China about the L-15 deal.
In February 2022, the UAE's official Emirates News Agency reported that the nation's Ministry of Defense was working to sign a contract with China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp, AVIC's export wing, for the purchase of 12 L-15s, with the option to buy another 36 in the future.
The report quoted a spokesman for the UAE military as saying that the Chinese plane is one of the top training/fighter jets in the world.
It also quoted Tareq Abdulraheem al Hosani, chief executive officer of the Tawazun Economic Council, as saying that the aircraft deal between the two nations is part of ongoing efforts to diversify and modernize the Arab nation's military capabilities.
The Tawazun Economic Council is an official organization that manages the procurements and contracts of the UAE Armed Forces and the Abu Dhabi police.
Developed by AVIC's Hongdu Aviation Industry Group in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, the L-15 has two engines, a streamlined aerodynamic design and integrated avionics. It can be equipped with an advanced fire-control radar and multiple types of munitions such as midrange air-to-air missiles, precision strike bombs and anti-ship cruise missiles.