China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the Hongdu JL-10 (known as the L-15 Falcon on its export version) advanced trainer jet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Air Force, for the first time dropped 500-kilogram aviation bombs at a PLA Air Force academy in a training exercise, displaying the PLA Air Force’s training plan for cadets to master ground attack and bombing early in their training program and the aircraft’s outstanding capabilities. A brigade at the Shijiazhuang Flight Academy with the PLA Air Force selected a group of most skilled flight instructors and conducted a live-fire training exercise with two 500-kilogram aviation bombs on the JL-10 trainer jet.
This was the first time the JL-10 aircraft has carried out such type of training mission since its commissioning into the PLA Air Force. The training will start with the flight instructors and the program aims to train cadets in combat skills as early as possible. The drills show that the PLA Air Force not only wants its cadets to learn how to fly an aircraft, but also to master key tactical moves, including ground attack and bombing, and possibly air-to-air combat. When the cadets graduate and join formal missions with real fighter jets they will not need to learn from scratch, the expert said, noting that the exercise was made possible thanks to the JL-10’s outstanding capabilities, as the supersonic jet can simulate a multirole fighter jet.
The Hongdu JL-10 is a supersonic advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft being developed by Nanchang-based Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation (HAIC) to meet the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF) lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) requirements, as well as next-generation training and light combat needs for foreign customers. The two-seat, two-engine L-15 featured the latest advanced technologies developed by China. The JL-10 is a direct rival to the Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation (GAIC) JL-9/FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle in competition for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) next-generation advanced trainer aircraft program.
With the JL-10, student pilots will be able to complete mission flight training and advanced combat training, as well as complete all basic jet flight training courses. The aircraft also has six (four under-wing and two wingtips) pylons to carry various air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. If necessary, it can serve in the lightweight attack role with minor modifications, carrying up to 3.5 tons of armament. This is very useful when trying to simulate the maneuvers of advanced fourth-generation fighters such as J-10, JF-17, and J-11, as well as for the newest fifth-generation fighter like J-20 and J-31. JL-9/FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle trainer jet from Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation (GAIC) is a direct competitor of the JL-10.