The Valmet L-70 "Vinka" was an indigenously designed, developed, and produced Finnish basic military trainer for the Finnish Air Force. The type flew in prototype form for the first time on July 1st, 1975 and entered service with the branch in 1980. The series managed a healthy existence, modernized as needed to keep the platform viable for the foreseeable future, with a career window spanning some forty-two years before being formally retired in 2022 - succeeded by the German Grob G115 lightweight flight trainer.
Thirty Vinkas were built for the Finnish Air Force with none being exported (despite attempts).
Heading into 1970, the service was actively using Swedish Saab 91 "Safirs" for the basic training role. This single-engine, low-wing monoplane offered exceptional views from its heavily-glazed cockpit which seated its two occupants in side-by-side fashion. The design stood as a stepping stone for future Finnish jet pilots needing to transition to Advanced Jet Trainers (AJTs) before frontline fighters proper - namely the BAe Hawk AJT. Finland operated 35 Saab 91D and a single Saab 91B models into the late 1980s.
Against this backdrop, engineers at Valmet Oyj looked to developing an indigenous replacement and work on such an aircraft began during September of 1970. This resulted in a similar monoplane form with side-by-side seating taking to the air for the first time in July of 1975.
The resulting aircraft was largely conventional save for its side-by-side seating arrangement. A single American Lycoming O-360 four-cylinder engine was seated at the nose to drive a two-bladed propeller unit in puller fashion. The cockpit was positioned just aft over midships and the empennage tapered to the extreme aft-end, capped by a single vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes. The tricycle undercarriage was wheeled yet fixed in flight. Beyond its seating for two crew, an additional two personnel could be fitted behind the main seat pairing to undertake other roles.
As completed, the aircraft held a running length of 24.6 feet, a wingspan of 32.3 feet, and a height of 10.9 feet. Empty weight was 1,700lb against an MTOW of 2,755lb. The Lycoming powerplant, coupled with its general design, allowed the aircraft to reach maximum speeds of 150 miles-per-hour, cruise near 140 mph, reach out to a range of 530 miles, and fly up to an altitude of 16,000 feet (requiring cockpit pressurization and oxygen for both crew). Rate-of-climb was listed at 1,120 feet-per-minute.
Liking what they saw, Finnish authorities contracted for thirty airframes with the order placed on January 28th, 1977. This led to service entry occurring in October of 1980 and the final airframe followed before the end of 1982.
While something of a success, at least locally, the Vinka was promoted for foreign sale under the designation of L-70 "Miltrainer" though non materialized. Other developments included the turboprop-powered L-80 TP "Turbotrainer" and the L-90 TP / L-90 "RegiGo" - all of which failed to net foreign interest.
The nation of Costa Rica acquired a single Vinka for its Landmark Flight Academy for a time.
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September 2022 - The Finnish Air Force has formally retired its last L-70 basic trainer aircraft after over forty years of active service to the branch.
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represents the most popular modern mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
1 x Lycoming AEIO-360-A1B6 4-cylinder air-cooled piston engine developing 200 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose. The series will be superseded in same role by the German Grob G115E flight trainers. Propulsion
Up to 660lb of externally-held drop ordnance / drop bombs, gun pods, cannon pods, and aerial rockets for training.
L-70 "Vinka" - Base Series Designation.
L-70 "Miltrainer" - Proposed export designation; none sold.
L-80 TP "Turbotrainer" - Equipped with turboprop engine for potential export; none sold.
L-90 TP - Second prototype of Turbotrainer initiative; non sold.
L-90 "Redigo" (also "RediGo") - Based in the L-90 TP; none sold.
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