The Aero L-159 ALCA is a light subsonic attack jet and advanced trainer developed in the single-seat L-159A and two-seat L-159B versions respectively, produced in the Czech Republic by Aero Vodochody. The L-159 Combat & Training System includes the L-159 advanced light combat aircraft, integrated logistics support, mission planning and debriefing and ground based training system. The L-159 has seen active combat use by the Iraqi Air Force against ISIS. In Draken’s service, the L-159 (colloquially known as “Honey Badger”) has been employed as an aggressor aircraft. Since 2007, six L-159A aircraft have been rebuilt into T1 trainer derivatives. In 2017, Aero Vodochody unveiled a newly built L-159T1 for the Iraqi Air Force while the Czech Air Force is set to acquire L-159T2 (L-159T1+) two-seaters.
The L-159 ALCA is designed for the principal role of light combat aircraft (single-seat L-159A ALCA variant) or light attack jet and advanced/lead-in fighter trainer (two-seat L-159B Albatros II and T variants). Design of the L-159 was derived from the L-39/59 in terms of aerodynamic configuration but a number of changes were made to improve its combat capabilities. These include strengthening of the airframe, reinforcing of the cockpit with composite and ceramic ballistic armour and enlargement of the aircraft’s nose to accommodate the radar. Compared to the L-59, number of underwing pylons was increased from four to six and a new hardpoint under the fuselage was added instead of GSh-23L cannon.
The aircraft is powered by the non-afterburning Honeywell/ITEC F124-GA-100 turbofan engine with a maximum thrust of 28 kN. Almost 2,000 litres of fuel is stored in eight internal tanks (six in the fuselage, two at the wingtips) with up to four external drop tanks (two 500 L and two 350 L tanks) carried under the wings. The lightly armoured cockpit is equipped with a VS-2B ejection seat capable of catapulting the pilot at a zero flight level and zero speed. The aircraft’s avionics based on the MIL-STD-1553 databus include Selex Navigation and Attack Suite, Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (INS) and Global Positioning System (GPS). Flight data are displayed both at the FV-3000 head-up display (HUD) and two multi-function displays (MFD).
Communications are provided by a pair of Collins ARC-182 transceivers. Self-protection of the L-159 is ensured by the Sky Guardian 200 radar warning receiver (RWR) and the Vinten Vicon 78 Series 455 chaff and flare dispenser. L-159A and T2 variants are equipped with the Italian FIAR Grifo L multi-mode Doppler radar for all-weather, day and night operations. All variants of L-159 are equipped with a total of seven hardpoints (one under-fuselage and six under-wing mountings), capable of carrying external loads up to 2,340 kg. The aircraft can be equipped with a variety of weapons ranging from unguided bombs (CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition, Mark 82 general-purpose bombs, Mark 83 general-purpose bombs, GBU-12 Paveway II, GBU-16 Paveway II), LAU-5002/LAU-5003 rocket pods (LAU-5002, LAU-5003), air-to-ground (AGM-65 Maverick) and air-to-air guided missiles (AIM-9 Sidewinder, IRIS-T, AIM-132 ASRAAM, AIM-120 AMRAAM) or with special devices to conduct aerial reconnaissance or electronic warfare. For example, it is capable of carrying advanced targeting pods including the AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING.