Interview with Filip Kulštrunk about possible use of L-39NG aircraft in Ukraine
The Czech company Aero Vodochody will start serial production of a new aircraft at the end of 2022 after 20 years. This is the L-39NG subsonic aircraft, which follows the L-39C type, where the original requirement was to create a successor to the highly successful L-39 Albatros type. In connection with the Czech subsonic jet L-39NG and its possible use on the Ukrainian battlefield, we asked Filip Kulstrunk, Aero Vodochody Executive Vice President of Sales, for a short interview.
At Aero Vodochody you are mass producing a new L-39NG jet aircraft, which is said to be suitable for use in Ukraine. Do you agree with this statement?
We agree that our aircraft is suitable for strengthening the Ukrainian army. It is a multifunctional modern platform that is capable of covering multiple functions, from pilot training to light combat and reconnaissance missions. Moreover, it is the most efficient aircraft in its category.
Are you talking about the pilot training that Ukraine is now doing abroad?
Yes and no. In Ukraine, the Air Force knows and still uses the predecessor of the L-39NG, which is the L-39 Albatros. Ukrainian pilots have been training on the L-39 for several decades, are familiar with the platform and have been satisfied with it for a long time. Our new L-39NG builds on it and takes the best of it - excellent flight characteristics, reliability and safety - but brings many improvements and upgrades, starting with brand new materials that enhance safety and flight characteristics, as well as a new engine and modern avionics systems. The L-39NG in Ukraine would ensure continuity of flight training, substantially increase its capacity and make it more efficient for pilots to train for 4th generation aircraft such as the F-16 or Gripen.
What are the possibilities of using the L-39NG in combat?
The L-39NG can also be used as a light combat aircraft against ground targets and aerial, slow and low-flying targets such as drones, which attack far inside Ukrainian territory and against which, among other things, very expensive missile systems are used today. The L-39NG has five racks for various weapons and mission equipment, such as guided and unguided bombs, machine guns, guided and unguided missiles, and additional tanks, up to 1,650 tons. A reconnaissance version with the right sensors further expands the aircraft's use for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and is usable, for example, for patrolling areas near borders. In addition, the aircraft has the ability to react quickly and has unrivalled endurance and operational range. The aircraft does not need paved airfields, and is capable of landing and taking off from unpaved surfaces such as grass airfields. It can also be used against larger unmanned aerial vehicles, which have been used extensively in combat against Ukraine. Of course, it should be noted that the aircraft has no armour or means of self-protection, so it is not suited to areas of high intensity combat.
Have any European countries expressed interest in acquiring the L-39NG for Ukraine?
We hope that some of the countries will do so soon. The aircraft is an excellent solution for Ukraine, and it costs a fraction of the price of other aircraft or weapons provided to Ukraine. We have already reported on the suitability of the L-39NG aircraft for Ukraine and the possibility of a government donating it to Ukraine, and we are trying to make it known within the EU countries.