Aero L-159 Alca

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L-159 ALCA
Aero L-159 (6063) in flight (1).jpg
Czech Air Force L-159 ALCA
Role Military Advanced Light Combat Aircraft
Manufacturer Aero Vodochody
First flight 4 August 1997[1]
Introduction April 2000
Status Operational
Primary user Czech Air Force, Iraqi Air Force
Produced 1997–2003
Number built 72
Unit cost
US$9.5 million (2015) [2]
US$13 million (2003)
US$15–17 million
Developed from Aero L-59 Super Albatros

The Aero L-159 ALCA (Advanced Light Combat Aircraft) is a Czech-built multi-role combat aircraft. It is in service with the Czech Air Force. It is derived from the Aero L-59 Super Albatros.

Design and development[edit]

Development of the L-159 began in 1992 using Rockwell Collins (eventually Boeing) as the avionics integrator. The Czech Air Force ordered 72 of the aircraft in April 1995.[1]

The maiden flight of the L-159 occurred on 4 August 1997 with a two-seat version. On 18 August 1998 the single-seat version first flew; it was completed to Czech customer specifications. April 2000 marked the first delivery of an L-159 to the Czech Air Force.[1]

In 2009, Aero Vodochody selected V-Dot Systems (split off from Boeing) as the L-159 avionics integrator.[citation needed] V-Dot will replace the Honeywell multi-function displays (MFD) and upgrade the mission processors to support new functions.

Operational history[edit]

The Czech Air Force is the primary operator, receiving the latest avionics upgrades.

In May 2016, L-159 aircraft were used by the Iraqi Air Force to attack ISIL positions in Fallujah.[3]




The L-159A is a single-seat light multi-role combat aircraft designed for a variety of air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance missions. The aircraft is equipped with a multi-mode Doppler Grifo-L radar (a variant of the Grifo-F x-band multi-mode, pulse-doppler radar),[4] for all-weather, day and night operations. It can carry a wide range of NATO standard stores including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and laser guided bombs. The L-159A is in operational service with the Czech Air Force and in production. Avionic upgrades are designed and developed by V-Dot Systems Inc.

There are two different configurations being used by the CzAF:

1. Using the Honeywell MFDs.

2. Using the Vdot MFDs.


The L-159B is a two-seat derivative of the L159A primarily designed for Advanced and Operational/Lead-In Fighter Training. The L-159B configuration can also be tailored to customer specific requirements and adapted to needs of basic training as well as combat missions including air-to-Ground, patrol and reconnaissance missions.

Note: only one prototype made by Aero Vodochody.


The L-159T1 is a two-seat trainer derivative used by the Czech air Force. All L-159T1s are modified L-159A airframes taken from storage. First flight 8 March 2007.


The L-159T2 is a two-seat trainer derivative based on the designs of the L-159T1 and L-159A. Instead of mirroring the instruments to the rear seat like the L-159T1, the new two-seater will have independent instruments. The avionic systems will be interchangeable with the L-159A and use the same software configurations. Aero Vodochody will be using parts from the L-159B to build the L-159T2 prototype. Avionic upgrades are designed and developed by V-Dot Systems Inc.


Military operators[edit]

 Czech Republic
  • Iraqi Air Force - 15 L-159 aircraft purchased (10+3 L-159As and 2 L-159T1s).[6] The first two Czech L-159s were delivered to Iraq on 5 November 2015.[7][8]

Civilian operators[edit]

 United States
  • Draken International Inc. - 21 L-159Es: a civilian U.S. company that cooperates with the US military for the training of American pilots, will buy 21 planes in total.[9][10][11][12] Aero Vodochody handed over the first L-159 aircraft to Draken International on 30 September 2015.[13]
  • Lewis Fighter Fleet LLC - 3 L-159As.[14] These aircraft were bought from EADS-CASA in July 2013. In 2009 EADS-CASA of Spain exchanged with the CzAF four CASA C-295 for three L-159As, two L-159T1s and 130 million Euros.[15] Later the two L-159T1s were returned by EADS-CASA to the Czech Republic as compensation for the C-295M not meeting the counter measures requirements of the CzAF at the time of delivery.[16] This problem has been solved by EADS-CASA three years later and the remaining three L-159As resold by EADS-CASA to Lewis Fighter Fleet LLC.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 24 February 2003 L-159A (No. 6056) crashed during weapons trials of the podded 20mm cannon "Plamen", pilot killed.[17]

On 22 November 2012 an L-159A from the Czech Air Force (No. 6061) crashed during training flight in central Bohemia. Pilot (First Lieutenant Ondřej Sovina) was killed.[18][19]

Specifications (L-159A)[edit]

Aero L-159 Alca scheme.jpg

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004[20]

General characteristics



Grifo-L Radar

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b c Frawley, Gerald (2002). The International Directory of Military Aircraft, 2002/2003. Fyshwick, ACT: Aerospace Publications. ISBN 1-875671-55-2. 
  2. ^ "Iraq receives first L-159 jets from the Czech Republic". 
  3. ^ "A new formula in the battle for Fallujah". AlJazeera. 2016-05-25. 
  4. ^ "GRIFO - A family of pulse Doppler radar" (PDF). Galileo Avionica. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-11-02. 
  5. ^ Soušek, Tomáš (August 15, 2016). "The Czech Air Force". In Čadil, Jan. Czech Air Force Yearbook 2016 (in Czech and English). Prague: L+K magazine and Magnet Press, Slovakia. pp. 4–8. ISBN 978-80-89169-35-1. 
  6. ^ "Czech government approves sale of fighter jets to Iraq". Reuters. Prague. March 9, 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  7. ^ "First Czech redundant L-159 aircraft delivered to Iraq". České noviny. Czech News Agency (CTK). Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Jennings, Gareth. "Iraq receives first L-159 jets from the Czech Republic". IHS Jane's 360. IHS. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "USA´s Draken to buy 21 L-159 planes, gets 8 planes by year´s end". České 30 September 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  10. ^ "Czech L-159s: Cheap to Good Home". Defense Industry Daily. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  11. ^ "Czechs to deliver military planes to U.S.". The Daily Star - Lebanon. Lebanon. 2 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  12. ^ "Aero Vodochody Relaunching L-39". Aviation Week & Space Technology. New York: Penton Media. 176 (27): 10. 4 August 2014. ISSN 0005-2175. 
  13. ^ Vrublová, Tereza. "Aero Hands Over First L-159 Aircraft to Draken". Aero Vodochody. AERO Vodochody AEROSPACE a.s. Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "3 Aero L-159 ALCA prodány do USA" [3 Aero L-159 ALCA sold in the USA] (in Czech). 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  15. ^ "La República checa adquiere cuatro aviones C-295M a EADS-CASA por 130 millones de euros y cinco cazas L-159" [The Czech Republic acquires four C-295 aircraft to EADS-CASA 130 million five fighters L-159]. Noticias Infodefensa España [Defence News Spain] (in Spanish). Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  16. ^ "Do ČR se vrátil L-159 jako kompenzace za letouny CASA" [In the Czech Republic returned L-159 as compensation for aircraft CASA]. ČT24—Česká televize [CT24 - Czech TV] (in Czech). 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  17. ^ "Pomníky letců - Pomníky letců - Česká republika - České letectvo - 24.2.2003 - kpt.Petr Vašíček" [Memorials Flyers - Flyers Memorials - Czech Republic - Czech Air Force - 24 February 2003 - kpt.Petr Vasicek] (in Czech). 2003-02-24. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  18. ^ "Pilot killed in military plane crash". Prague Daily Monitor. 23 November 2012. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  19. ^ Lazarová, Daniela (23 November 2012). "Plane crash sees fleet of L-159 fighter jets grounded". Radio Prague. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  20. ^ Jackson 2003, pp. 100–101.
  21. ^ Including tip tanks.
  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK:Jane's Information Group, 2003. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.

External links[edit]