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Operating out of Zweibrücken airport in Germany under a permit issued by German authorities, AEC Skyline’s fleet of upgraded Aero L-39 jet trainers has began supporting Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) Close Air Support (CAS) training on behalf of the United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE). The initial sortie on 11 February mission saw one of the Dutch air contractor’s L39s supporting training in the US military’s Baumholder training area.

Flying under a contract that could extend to 30 September 2025, AEC Skyline’s L-39s carry a L3Harris Wescam MX-15D EO/IR sensor pod equipped with laser spot tracker as well as night vision devices, IR pointers and UHF, VHF radios to enable both day and night CAS tactical employment capability. The onboard L3Harris CMDL 2i digital duplex datalink, operating in the L, S, C and Ku frequency bands, provides full support for full motion video and Digitally Aided Close Air Support (DACAS) training.

High End Training Support

Adhering to internationally agreed JTAC standards, performance includes flying up to 320 flying hours per year with a maximum of 12 hours per day. Units being supported are the Warrior Preparation Center’s 4th Combat Training Squadron as well as the 4th Air Support Operations Group and subordinate units with training being performed in primary training areas in Germany and in other European countries if required. Home based at Groningen airport Eelde in the Netherlands, AEC Skyline has indicated that it stays committed to providing full, high end training support regardless of any possible repositioning of forces allocated to United States European Command (USEUCOM). This will ensure the continuation of training aimed at integrating air combat power and surface fires.

Capable of speeds in excess of 300 knots indicated air speed, sustaining with ease the 4Gs required under the contract, AEC Skyline’s L-39s have the capability to perform tactical manoeuvring to achieve up to 30 degree deliveries that include simulated ordnance release. A time on station in excess of 40 minutes is guaranteed according to the Dutch company, with its aircraft being capable of operating at altitudes well in excess of 10,000 feet MSL, coping with high density altitude environments as well. Now recognised by the USAFE, AEC Skyline boasts its L-39 aircraft are capable of supporting realistic air-to-ground training operations, performing flight manoeuvres that simulate those of modern fighter/attack aircraft, but at a much lower cost.

Jack Richardson