The biggest Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody teamed up with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on a new project for a multirole aircraft with interception capabilities designed for close air support, counter-insurgency operations and border patrolling. The F/A-259 Striker, a cost-effective, combat proven fighter attack aircraft, was unveiled last week at the Farnborough Airshow.
According to the Czech manufacturer, the F/A-259 Striker should combine the robustness and effectiveness of its successful predecessor, the L-159 Alca, with the latest advances in avionics and aircraft systems technology. Using benefits of a wet wing (where an aircraft’s wing structure is sealed and used as a fuel tank), F/A-259 Striker supposedly provides superior performance, great maneuverability, and a high range.
Giuseppe Giordo, CEO of Aero Vodochody said that: “Nowadays, national air forces are looking for a solution how to fulfill a great variety of missions in an affordable way, while keeping high survivability of the aircraft and its crew. Aero and IAI are introducing a multirole fighter F/A-259 Striker with a wide range of combat capabilities that meet those needs of Air Forces all around the world by bringing great performance with low acquisition, operation and maintenance cost. There are not so many aircraft on the market providing such capabilities, because it is a new requirement”.
Indeed, the end goal of this project is to seduce the United States Air Force who has been looking for a light attack aircraft for its OA-X program, established to enable the USAF to buy a light and cost-effective counter-insurgency, ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft, capable of finding, tracking, and attacking targets either on its own or in support of ground forces.
For Benjamin Cohen, General Manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ Lahav Division, this “cooperation with Aero Vodochody offers the USAF impressive proven performance of the F/A-259, with new innovative IAI systems, to provide customers with aircraft that meet their OA-X requirements.”
While this could be a first step into a bigger world for the Czech aviation industry, so far absent from the major international projects, the OA-X program is currently on hold after a deadly crash of an A-29 Super Tucano last month, and has been pushed indefinitely into the future.