The Syrian rebel forces has claimed shooting down a Syrian Air Force L-39 Albatros jet trainer in northern Hama after it had taken off from the Hama airport.
According to a rebel source, the trainer was shot down by anti-aircraft guns while conducting combat mission over Um Haratain village.
According to reports in the local media, the warplane crashed in the area between the villages of Hamdaniyah and Haraytan. The pilot died as a result of the incident. Militants released a video with his body. Pro-government sources say that the pilot was captured and killed.
The identity of the pilot has not been officially confirmed, but Directorate 4, which monitors rebel activity in Syria, named the slain pilot as Basim Hasan, a native of the city of Homs.
A second pilot may also have been in the aircraft, although his fate is still unknown, Reuters reported.
The Syrian state-run media also confirmed that the warplane was downed by militants. “The military aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Hama after it was shot down by terrorists; the pilot was killed,” the Syrian state-run SANA news agency quoted a source as saying.
The Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) has operated a number of armed L-39ZA light attack variants.
Since the early stages of the Syrian civil war, the Syrian Air Force’s L-39 aircraft have been routinely deployed in counter-insurgency (COIN) operations against various rebel ground forces, a number of these aircraft have also been shot down by ground fire.
They were first used operationally during the Battle of Aleppo, launching several strikes upon rebel-held positions. It has been claimed the L-39 was the first fixed-wing aircraft to be employed against the rebels.
According to Reuters, by 2014 the L-39 had allegedly become one of the favoured platforms of the Syrian Air Force for performing ground attack missions due to its slower speed and higher agility over other aircraft in its inventory.
Aero L-39 Albatros
Aero L-39 Albatros is a high-performance jet trainer developed in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody during the 1960s as a replacement for the Aero L-29 Delfín as a principal training aircraft.
The L-39 Albatros has the distinction of being the first of the second-generation jet trainers to be produced, as well as being the first trainer aircraft to be equipped with a turbofan powerplant. The type was exported to a wide range of countries as a military trainer.
To date, more than 2,800 L-39s have served with over 30 air forces around the world. The Albatros is the most widely used jet trainer in the world; in addition to performing basic and advanced pilot training, it has also flown combat missions in a light-attack role.