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Aero L-39 Albatros

Czechoslovakia (1972)
Picture of Aero L-39 Albatros Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft
Picture of Aero L-39 Albatros Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft Picture of Aero L-39 Albatros Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft
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The Aero L-39 Albatros was designed to succeed the Aero L-29 Advanced Trainer and Light Strike Aircraft.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Aero L-39 Albatros Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/18/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Aero L-39 series of advanced jet trainer and light strike aircraft followed along the same lines as its predecessor - the L-29 "Delphin" detailed elsewhere on this site - in terms of development. Designed just three years after the successful L-29 became the frontline advanced trainer for the Soviet Union and associated Bloc countries, the L-39 emerged in prototype form and recorded its first flight on November 4th, 1968 prior to introduction with the Czechoslovakian Air Force in 1972. From then on, the aircraft was equally accepted and successful in the training of a new generation of pilots for the Soviet Empire and its satellite states and supporters. Total production exceeding 3,000 aircraft from 1971 to 1999. It became the first turbofan-powered trainer to enter serial production.

Compared to the earlier L-29, the L-39 was a more simplified approach with modularity in mind, allowing the newer aircraft to be produced more efficiently and quicker than its counterpart. The powerplant increased thrust was added as was a new avionics suite along with a reinforced structure. The tandem, twin-seat aircraft - as in the L-29 before it - allowed for unfettered views out of the cockpit (save for the rear), bringing about a heightened sense of situational awareness. The training derivative was eventually branched into a light strike form and four underwing hardpoints were used to carry various ordnance options including rocket pods, air-to-air missiles, and conventional drop bombs. This was in addition to the standard, centerline-mounted 23mm GSh-23L twin-barrel cannon for close-in work.

Outwardly, the L-39 was a complete revision over the L-29. It sported low-set, straight-edged, monoplane mainplanes with a well-sloped nose assembly. Views were hindered by the raised fuselage spine but this, in turn, allowed for increased internal storage space. Twin, half-moon intakes were set to either side of the slim fuselage which aspirated the single turbofan engine installation. The tail unit included a single vertical tail fin and low-mounted horizontal planes as well as the singular jetpipe. The tricycle undercarriage consisted of a single-wheeled nose leg and two single-wheeled main legs under the wings.

Export numbers for the L-39 Albatross were abundant was the case with the L-29 - though roughly the same set of customers greeted the new machine. Thailand went on to purchase forty of an export model designated with L-39ZA/ART that featured Israeli-produced Elbit avionics. The most numerous in terms of production was the L-39C model which helped drive total production of the L-39 system as a whole past the 3,000 mark.


Picture of the Aero L-39 Albatros Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft
Picture of the Aero L-39 Albatros Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft


Variants have included the five prototypes and two static airframes as the L-39X (-01 through -07). The L-39C was the standard trainer for many Soviet entities during the Cold War. The L-39CM became an upgraded C-form for the Slovakian Air Force. The Ukrainians received the L-39M1 with AI-25TLSh series turbofan engines. The L-39V variant covered target tugs for the Czechoslovakian Air Force. A weapons trainer emerged as the L-39ZO. An armed trainer and light attack platform became the L-39ZA which supported air-to-air missile launching. The L-39ZAM was a Slovakian Air Force modernization of the L-39ZA mark.

The L-39 was then offered in a more refined form through the L-59 "Super Albatros" and the line further branched to include the L-159 "Alca". However, these did not go on to achieve the same level of success as the L-39, leaving Aero Vodochody to now offer an all-new, modernized version of the L-39 instead as the L-39NG ("Next Generation"). This was announced in August of 2014 with intended upgrades aimed at the avionics suite and engines (the U.S.-built Williams FJ44 series). The aircraft would serve the current military market as a low-cost advanced jet trainer alternative to more pricier mounts emerging from the West and Russia. The prototype is expected to go airborne sometime in 2016 with the product becoming available in 2018.

September 2015 - The prototype L-39NG completed its first flight.

September 2016 - The L-39NG advanced trained has completed initial testing, paving the way for serial production aircraft. Power will come from the Williams International FJ44-4M series engine with Genesys Aerosystems providing the avionics fit. Deliveries are expected to begin sometime in 2019.

March 2017 - Development of the L-39NG jet trainer is said to be continuing.

July 2017 - Assembly of new L-39NG aircraft as been announced by Aero Vodochody. The first of four aircraft on the line is intended as the series prototype. The fourth example is set to become the pre-series model. A first-flight of one of these new L-39NG examples is scheduled for 2018 with certification planned for 2019 and customer delivery for sometime in 2020.

February 2018 - Airframe assembly of the production-quality / production-standard L-39NG is set to begin.

June 2018 - Aero of Czech Republic has announced their intention to offer the United States Air Force its proven line of advanced jet trainers / light strike aircraft through the L-39NG and L-159 offerings.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (391mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Aero L-39 ZA Albatros's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2957
2957


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: Czechoslovakia
Service Year: 1972
Classification Type: Advanced Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Aero Vodochody- Czechoslovakia
Production Units: 2,957
Operational Status: Active, In-Service
Global Operators:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Belarus; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Cuba; Czech Republic; Czechoslovakia; Ethiopia; East Germany; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Estonia; Ethiopia; Georgia; Ghana; Hungary; Iraq; Kzakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Libya; Lithuania; Nigeria; North Korea; Romania; Russia; Slovakia; Soviet Union; Syria; Tajikistan; Thailand; Tunisia; Turkmenistan; Tunisia; Uganda; Ukraine; United States; Uzbeksitan; Vietnam; Yemen
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Aero L-39 ZA Albatros model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
40.42 ft


Meters
12.32 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
31.04 ft


Meters
9.46 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
15.49 ft


Meters
4.72 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
7,341 lb


Kilograms
3,330 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
11,618 lb


Kilograms
5,270 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Ivchenko AI-25TL turbofan engine developing 3,792lbs of thrust.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
391 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
630 kph


Knots
340 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,087 mi


Kilometers
1,750 km


Nautical Miles
945 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
29,528 ft


Meters
9,000 m


Miles
5.59 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
4,921 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
1,500 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (4):

Mission-specific ordnance may include any of the following for light-strike duty or weapons training:

1 x 23mm cannon (centerline station)
AA-2 Atoll air-to-air missiles
57mm or 130mm rocket pods
2 x Wingtip fuel tanks

Up to 1,102lbs of munitions
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank
Variants: Series Model Variants
• L-39 Base Series Designation
• L-39X - Prototype models; five built with two static airframes.
• L-39C - Basic Two-Seat Unarmed Trainer
• L-39CM - Upgraded C-models for Slovakian Air Force
• L-39V - Target Tug for Czechoslovakian Air Force
• L-39Z0 - Armed Weapons Trainer; fitted with reinforced wings and four underwing hardpoints.
• L-39ZA - Based on the L-39 Z0; reinforced undercarriage; provision for reconnaissance pod; increased ordnance load.
• L-39ZA/ART - Thailand Export Model; fitted with Israeli-produced Elbit-brand avionics system; 40 examples.
• L-139 "Albatross 2000" - Proposed Export Model; fitted with TFE731 turbofan engine generating 4,080 lbs of thrust; avionics by Bendix/King; single prototype completed.
• L-59 - Based on the L-39; fitted with uprated powerplant, avionics and a strengthened fuselage.
• L-159 - Evolved L-39 form