Aero L-59 Super Albatros

The Aero L-59 Super Albatros is a military jet trainer produced by the Czechoslovakian aerospace manufacturer Aero Vodochody. It was developed from the firm's earlier and highly successful L-39 Albatros series.

L-59 Super Albatros
The first prototype L-39MS designated X-21, is currently in the Odolena Voda Technological Institute as teaching material.
Role Military trainer aircraft
Manufacturer Aero Vodochody
First flight 30 September 1986
Status Out of production, in service
Primary users Czech Air Force
Egyptian Air Force
Tunisian Air Force
Produced 1986–1996
Number built 80[1]
Developed from Aero L-39 Albatros
Variants Aero L-159 Alca

Being based on the L-39, it shares numerous similarities; in comparison to its predecessor, the L-59 featured a strengthened fuselage, longer nose, a vastly updated cockpit, advanced avionics, and a more powerful Lotarev DV-2 engine. First flown on 30 September 1986, it was procured by the Czech Air Force, Egyptian Air Force, and Tunisian Air Force; a total of 80 Super Albatros of three variants have been manufactured prior to the end of production. A further development would be produced as the Aero L-159 Alca, a Westernised attack-orientated model that shared its fuselage configuration with the L-59.

In service, the L-59 has been largely used for training purposes. It has also been deployed in front-line light combat roles, such as to patrol the border between Libya and Tunisia around the height of the First Libyan Civil War. Furthermore, Tunisian Air Force L-59s also performed aerial reconnaissance and ground-attack missions against Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda-linked militants in 2014.

Development edit

During the 1980s, the Czechoslovakian aerospace manufacturer Aero Vodochody was keen to further develop their successful L-39 Albatros, a trainer and light attack aircraft. It decided to produce a derivative with an improved fuselage, an elongated nose, and fitted with a more powerful Lotarev DV-2 turbofan engine capable of generating up to 21.6 kN (4,850 lbf) of thrust. The latter facilitated operations at higher weights, while the aircraft also had a higher maximum speed having risen to 872 km/h (542 mph)).[2][3] The new aircraft was also furnished with more capable avionics and a vastly updated cockpit, which included a head-up display.[1][4] Initially, it was originally designated as the L-39MS; some time after conducting its maiden flight on 30 September 1986, the type was redesignated as the L-59.[5]

During 1992, a dedicated single-seat attack variant was proposed under the project name ALCA (Advanced Light Combat Aircraft); it was successfully marketed to the Czech Air Force.[6] Designated L-159A, the first flight of this variant was conduct on 2 August 1997. It features mostly Western avionics, with systems integration undertaken by Boeing. Furthermore, a new two-seat trainer has been flown as the L-159B Albatros II.[7]

By 2013, Aero's official website stated that the L-59 was no longer in production or available from the company. Services provided for the type included the provision of spare parts, service-life extensions, special repairs, overhauls, modifications and upgrades.[1]

Operational history edit

Initial deliveries of the L-59 were made to the Czechoslovak Air Force, who briefly operated a small fleet of six L-39MS prior to the nation's separation into the Czech Republic and Slovakia; consequently, these aircraft were divided between the Czech Air Force and the Slovak Air Force.[5] The L-59's most numerous operator, and its first export customer, was the Egyptian Air Force; a total of 69 L-59E aircraft would be delivered to the service.[8] Early Egyptian operations encountered poor engine reliability; this matter let to a contract to the American aerospace firm AlliedSignal to produce an improved digital engine control system.[9] The type had reportedly been intended for use as a lead-in-fighter trainer for the service's General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and Dassault Mirage 2000 fleets, and were equipped to be armed with Eastern-supplied weaponry. However, the Egyptian Air Force L-59s saw little use, allegedly being placed into storage around 1999.[10]

During the early to mid 1990s, various export opportunities were pursued by Aero Vodochody for the L-59, complimenting its continued sales efforts with the L-39 predecessor.[8] One opportunity pursued was the Royal Australian Air Force's lead-in fighter-trainer requirement, an effort which would ultimately be unsuccessful. There were also proposed variants, such as the L-59F, that were to be provisioned with equipment from overseas suppliers, such as avionics from the Israeli company Elbit, and adoption of the American-Taiwanese Honeywell/ITEC F124 turbofan engine in place of the Lotarev DV-2 of earlier variants.[8]

In 1995, deliveries of L-59Ts commenced to the Tunisian Air Force, a total of 12 were delivered to the service.[11][12] The type has been typically used for advanced pilot training and weapons training purposes, with a secondary focus on conducting light combat operations as well. During the First Libyan Civil War in 2011, Tunisian L-59s commonly flew armed patrol missions along the country's border with Libya.[10] During April 2014, a number of Tunisian L-59s performed multiple reconnaissance missions and counter-insurgency (COIN) strikes in support of major military offensives in the border region of Mount Chaambi against Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda-linked militants that aimed to destabilize Tunisia's transition to democracy.[13] In 2022, it was speculated that Tunisia's L-59T fleet would be rapidly replaced in the near future, the Boeing–Saab T-7 Red Hawk has been suggested as a candidate.[14]

Variants edit

Standard production version (six L-39MS for the Czechoslovak Air Force). Later, four aircraft were operated by the Czech Air Force, and two in the Slovak Air Force.[5]
Export version for Egypt. 49 L-59s for the Egyptian Air Force.[5]
Proposed version furnished with an Elbit-supplied avionics package and powered by a Honeywell/ITEC F124 engine.[8]
Export version for Tunisia. 12 L-59s for the Tunisian Air Force.[11]

Operators edit

  Czech Republic

Specifications (L-59E) edit

Lotarev DV-2 turbofan engine

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1993–94[16]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 12.20 m (40 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 9.54 m (31 ft 4 in) (including tip tanks)
  • Height: 4.77 m (15 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 18.80 m2 (202.4 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 4,030 kg (8,885 lb) (includes gun)
  • Max takeoff weight: 7,000 kg (15,432 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 1,537 L (406 US gal; 338 imp gal) including tip tanks
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lotarev DV-2 turbofan, 21.57 kN (4,850 lbf) thrust


  • Maximum speed: 865 km/h (537 mph, 467 kn) at 5,000 m (16,000 ft)
  • Stall speed: 185 km/h (115 mph, 100 kn) (flaps down)
  • Range: 2,000 km (1,200 mi, 1,100 nmi) at 7,000 m (23,000 ft) (with maximum internal and external fuel)
  • Service ceiling: 11,800 m (38,700 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 28.0 m/s (5,510 ft/min)


  • Guns: one GSh-23L cannon in under-fuselage pod
  • Hardpoints: four underwing hardpoints with a capacity of inner hardpoints 500 kg (1,100 lb)capacity, outer hardpoints 250 kg (550 lb)

See also edit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ a b c "L-39 Albatros / L-59 Super Albatros". Aero Vodochody. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  2. ^ Lake 2000, p. 118.
  3. ^ "Czechoslovakia: Aero L-39 Albatros". Flight International. 21 August 1990. p. 36. Archived from the original on 6 May 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2022.
  4. ^ Fredriksen, John C. (2001). International Warbirds: An Illustrated Guide to World Military Aircraft, 1914–2000. ABC-CLIO. p. 5. ISBN 9781576073643.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Lake 2000, p. 128.
  6. ^ Stevenson, Beth. "Aero Vodochody produces new-build L-159 trainer for Iraq". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Podívejte se na výrobu cvičného letounu pro armádní piloty". 17 May 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Albatros evolves". Flight International. 3 May 1995.
  9. ^ "Improved digital engine control system ordered for Egypt's L-59s". Flight International. 26 November 1997.
  10. ^ a b "The 39's steps..." 27 February 2018.
  11. ^ a b Lake 2000, p. 129.
  12. ^ "L-59 to make its first appearance at the Malta International Airshow". 28 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Tunisia: Air Force Bombs Terrorist Camp in Mount Chaambi". 11 April 2014.
  14. ^ "Boeing swoops into military training jet battle". 12 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b "History and Development".
  16. ^ Lambert 1993, pp. 64–65.

Bibliography edit

  • Lake, Jon. "Aero L-39 Albatross family: Variant Briefing". World Air Power Journal, Volume 43, Winter 2000. London:Aerospace Publishing. pp. 116–131. ISBN 1-86184-055-1.
  • Lambert, Mark (ed.). Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1993–94. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Data Division, 1993. ISBN 0-7106-1066-1.

External links edit