Czech Republic L-159 ALCAs could be heading for Poland
Country is the latest in a long line of possible buyers of Czech military aircraft. The Czech Republic is hoping to sell its L-159 Alca fighter aircraft to Poland, just months after an expected deal with Iraq apparently fell through.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced May 13 the Czech Republic was taking part in a tender that could result in the sale of the aircraft to Poland.
While in Warsaw to meet his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, Nečas said a string of Czech government ministries had teamed up to make what reports described as "a comprehensive offer" to sell the L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (Alca) model.
Any sale would be completed in the face of what appears to be heavy odds, given the many previous unsuccessful attempts to secure overseas buyers for the aircraft.
In the past, interest has come from countries as diverse as Bolivia, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines and Slovakia.
Despite the model's checkered history, Nečas struck an upbeat tone when talking about the possible sale to Poland.
"This [potential sale] enjoys the full support of the Czech government; we are prepared to provide even the planes the military of the Czech Republic owns for training," he said in comments reported by the Czech News Agency.
Last October, it appeared Iraq was set to purchase 28 of the aircraft, but reports from February indicated the deal had not been signed and was unlikely to go ahead.
One reason cited was that the manufacturer, Aero Vodochody, which is based in Odolena Voda north of Prague, was reluctant to set up a full-scale production line.
Iraq was to have received 24 new and 4 secondhand aircraft for a total of about $1 billion as part of its efforts to rebuild its air force in the post-Saddam era.
Despite being equipped with technology systems from western suppliers and offering full combat capability, the L-159 has struggled in the post-Soviet defense marketplace. Its single-seat configuration is said to have been a major drawback for its use as a training aircraft.
The aircraft flew for the first time in 1997, and the Czech government bought 72 of them for a total of 52 billion Kč, although half of these are believed to be in storage.
The Czech government is thought to be willing to sell off at least half of its L-159s.
One of the predecessor models to the L-159, the L-39, saw production run into the thousands and become a mainstay of the Soviet Air Force. It was also sold to a number of other countries, among them Libya and Syria, with the latter reportedly using the model during the current civil war.
On two occasions, L-159s have crashed, killing the pilot, with the first such incident in 2003 and the second in November last year.
Source: By Daniel Bardsley, The Prague Post News - 15 May 2013
Photo: The Czech Republic Air Force L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA) Aircraft (Photo by CRAF)