Bolivia poised to get surplus Czech L-159 combat aircraft

Bolivia appears set to become the first nation to acquire surplus Aero Vodochody L-159s from the Czech Republic, with its government having approved funds for an expected $57.8 million deal for six of the light combat and trainer aircraft.

Latin American sources suggest that a contract for five single-seat L-159As and one two-seat trainer (Czech air force examples pictured below) could be signed by late February, with the first aircraft to be delivered in August. The deal will also include a flight simulator and training for pilots and ground crew, they say.

If confirmed, the purchase will see the L-159s complement the Bolivian air force's 18 Canadair T-33s, now being overhauled and modernised under a $14 million programme launched last year. It will also enable Prague to dispose of the first of its 46 stored L-159s from a 1997 contract for 72 single-seat aircraft.

Aero Vodochody declines to comment on the reports.

Bolivia should, meanwhile, take delivery in late January of the first of two Eurocopter AS350B3 helicopters for its air force, and is negotiating a $50 million purchase of five Kazan-built Mil Mi-171 transport helicopters with Russia's Rosboronexport agency. Brazil also recently pledged to transfer five ex-air force Bell UH-1Hs to support Bolivia's counter-drug operations.

Copyright © 2009 Aviation News Release

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