The Senegalese Air Force (Armée de l’Air du Senegal) is supposed to receive four brand new L-39NG jets from Czech manufacturer Aero Vodochody, but it appears that delivery have been stalled.
Senegal signed a deal three years ago with the Czech aircraft maker Aero Vodochody for the L-39NG configured for light attack and training.
At the time, the Senegalese President Macky Sally announced the acquisition during the country’s national day celebration, and Aero Vodochody said that the Senegalese L-39NG sale represented the first international sale of a new aircraft in 20 years.
Subsequently, in October 2019, the Senegalese Chief of Air Staff, General Joseph Mamadou Diop flew a prototype of Aero Vodochody’s L-39NG light attack and trainer for up to an hour with with Aero Vodochody test pilot Vladimír Továrek.
After the flight, General Joseph Diob disclosed that; “I am glad I had the opportunity to try the aircraft on my own. It was a great experience, Aero test pilot Vladimír showed me the great manoeuvrability of the aircraft and I also admired beautiful Czech landscape from the new full glass cockpit providing great view.”
However, after more than three years the deal was signed, Senegal hasn’t received any of it’s aircraft.
A June 2020 report emerged that the Senegalese contract was yet to be effective as details of financing for the purchase were still being negotiated.
Aero Vodochody noted at the time that once the contract is finalised, deliveries will take place within two years.
The Senegalese contract covers the training of pilots, including conversion, instructor and combat training, maintenance personnel training, spare parts, ground support equipment and logistic support services.
Aero Vodochody’s L-39NG aircraft is a modern and effective trainer based on the current L-39, but it features the latest technologies.
The type is powered by modern FJ44-4M engine supplied with the TAP Blue engine support service to reduce maintenance cost.
Also, the Senegalese Air Force version is fitted with AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles mounted on the wingtips where the fuel tanks of previous L-39 versions were fitted.
Senegal’s L-39s will also be fitted with the Elbit Systems Targo II helmet-mounted system for weapons cueing, and the GenesyS aerosystem’s avionics.
Aero Vodochody was recently acquired by new joint venture (JV) which is believed to have slowed the L-39s delivery to Senegal.
Regarding the acquisition, Czech defence company Omnipol acquired Aero Vodochody Aerospace from Penta Investments in the JV with Hungarian businessman Andras Tombor.
A June 2020 report by Aero Vodochody explains that under the new joint venture, Tombor will hold a majority stake of 51% in AERO Investments Partners, and Omnipol 49% in the joint venture.
The slow pace of the delivery process will impact further sales of the L-39NG especially in Africa that such lightweight aircraft is preferred.
For instance, Ghana plans to procure six L-39NG Albatross aircraft for €111 million, however, the business have been severely criticized by the country’s Minority Leader in Parliament Mr. Kwame Agbodza.
Kwame Agbodza argues that both Vietnam and Senegal which have made commitments to purchase the same aircraft from the Czech-based manufacturer Aero Vodochody since 2018 are yet to receive their orders hence it is not prudent that Ghana chooses the same manufacturer to make a purchase from them.
“Our checks reveal that since the outdooring of that particular jet, it appears no country has placed an order, taken delivery and actually using that jet seriously. We are told Vietnam and Senegal have placed orders for those jets, but they are yet to be delivered. What is the guarantee for us? We have other manufactures in the world in Brazil and Europe that are similar. Although Senegal and Vietnam made a serious commitment for the jets right from 2018, [but they are yet to take delivery],” he said.
Aero Vidochody in early 2018 commenced pre-series production line capable of producing four L-39NGs annually. The first new pre-series L-39NG flew in the end of 2018.