Czech aircraft company Aero Vodochody has been awarded a new contract to modernise the Bulgarian Air Force’s L-39 advanced trainer aircraft.

Awarded by the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD), the contract has a performance period of four years.   

The initial order under this contract involves the modernisation and overhaul of the first two L-39ZA aircraft. The company will repair the two engines and Safir auxiliary launch unit of the aircraft.

The two aircraft to undergo repairs will be transferred by the Bulgarian Air Force to Aero Vodochody by the end of this month. It will be delivered to the Vodokhod factory.

Once delivered, Aero will commence the extensive overhaul work, which also includes the replacement of the L-39 aircraft’s original Russian avionics with the new Western ones.

In addition, the company will upgrade the navigation, communication, identification and recording equipment of the trainer jets, along with other partial upgrades on the aircraft’s machines.

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The associated work will be carried out by Aero Vodochody in collaboration with other industry partners and suppliers from the Czech Republic, including VR Group’s subsidiary LOM Praha.

LOM Praha is Aero’s strategic partner and will support the overhaul of Bulgarian aircraft’s AI-25TL engines.

Work on the first upgraded aircraft is expected to complete by 2024.

Aero Vodochody sales vice-president Filip Kulštrunk said: “I am delighted with the successful completion of the tender and the opportunity to support another user of the legendary L-39 Albatros trainer aircraft.

“We are systematically working to strengthen and develop relationships with current users of our aircraft. Thus, Bulgaria joins ranks of customers who have opted for overhaul and partial modernisation of their aircraft.”

Last November, Aero was selected by LOM Praha to provide four L-39NG aircraft for the Czech Air Force.