Having completed an overhaul as part of an after-sales support contract, Aero Vodochody has delivered the last L-159T1 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA) to Iraq, where it will join 11 other examples that were delivered to the Iraqi Air Force (IQAF) between 2015 and 2018.
The aircraft (serial IQAF-5901/6069) was one of the last single-seat L-159s to be produced in 2003 and was initially delivered to the Czech Air Force (CzAF). This single-seat aircraft was one of six CzAF ALCAs to be converted to the dual-seat L-159T1 configuration for pilot training purposes, before it was subsequently returned to Czech military service in January 2007. On March 9, 2015, the Czech government approved the $29.68m sale of 15 ALCAs to Iraq, which comprised eight new-build examples from Aero (seven L-159s and one L-159T1) and four second-hand examples from the operational CzAF inventory (three L-159s and one L-159T1).
Following the sale to Iraq, Aero Vodochody performed maintenance work on L-159T1 (serial IQAF-5901/6069) before it was handed over to the IQAF. Despite the handover, the aircraft remained in the Czech Republic and was used to train Iraqi pilots on the type. While performing this role, the aircraft’s intermediate repair resource was exhausted, resulting in it undergoing an overhaul at Aero as part of an after-sales support contract for the IQAF L-159 fleet.
After completing this overhaul, the aircraft was flown from Vodochody Airport, near Prague, to join the 115th (Attack) Squadron at Balad Air Base in Iraq. This delivery flight saw the L-159T1 transit through Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and Malatya, Turkey, before proceeding on to Balad. An escort aircraft supported this delivery and returned to the Czech Republic once the ALCA had reached Malatya.
Aero announced the completion of this delivery flight on February 15, adding that the sortie required diplomatic permissions to allow the aircraft to fly over Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The firm added that the flight was further complicated by the partial closure of airspace on the Turkish-Iraqi border, along with ongoing combat operations taking place within Iraqi territory.