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New Airplane for the Russian Air Force

For the first time in the last 10 years, renovation of the domestic fleet of combat aircraft has begun

Russia’s air force commander-in-chief, Vladimir Mikhaylov, has taken part personally in a signature event for his type of forces – the roll out of the first Yak-130 combat training airplane (UBS).  For the first time since 1991, the air force has received a new series-built aircraft. The ceremony took place on 30 May at the Nizhniy Novgorod airport of the Sokol aviation plant. General-Colonel Mikhaylov spent nearly 20 minutes in the airplane’s cockpit, attentively studying the make-up of the aircraft equipment. He shared his impressions with an NVO correspondent. This is a fine aircraft, which everyone has waited for a long time. In 2002, there was little money, but we were able to start these airplanes on the production line. In 2005, we already will have one squadron of Yak-130.” 

The first series-built example of the Yak-130 will begin execution of a program of flight tests in November 2003. Work on construction of the lightweight jet UBS is taking place according to a state contract signed by the A.S. Yakovlev OKB with the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense.

In 2003 – 2004, it is planned to prepare an experimental batch of four Yak-130. At the end of 2003, an example of the airplane for static tests will be built and by mid 2004 – the second flying example. 

 It is planned to complete the program of flight tests in 2004 – 2005, and from 2005, to start Yak-130 deliveries to the customer. 


From the start of the 1960s, the Czechoslovak Aerovodochody firm had been the primary supplier of training airplanes (UTS) for the Soviet air force. The L-39 "Albatross" provided a whole cycle of flight training. Since the end of the 1980s work has been started on their upgrade. At the same time there was development underway in the Czechoslovak People's Republic on the new L-59 UTS.  However, it turned out to be too expensive and did not meet the requirements that had been presented. Under new economic conditions, in view of the significant operational expenses, it turned out to be unacceptable to use also the twin-seat Su-27UB, MiG-29UB and Su-25UB as training variants. In these conditions, the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense announced a competition for the construction of a new domestic jet UTS in 1991 which is intended for training pilots for 4th and 5th generation fighters. 

The Sukhoy (S-54), Myasishchev (M-200), Mikoyan (MiG-AT) and Yakovlev (Yak-130) firms took part in the competition. Versatility and a modification capability which allow the training pilots of tactical, army and carrier aviation on the same UTS; the conformity of the performance characteristics (LTKh) with modern airplanes and those being developed; the adaptability to the air force requirements of various countries; a decrease in man-hours for servicing by at least half; and acceptable cost features and rapid modification into full-fledged combat variants were selected by Yakovlev OKB specialists as criteria. 

We shall note that in comparison with the competitors, the Yakovlev OKB had such an indisputable advantage as rich experience in the design of UTS. The first UT-2 “flying desk” was built in 1938. Then followed the Yak-17, Yak-18, Yak-30 and its Yak-32 single-seat sporting variant, on which the post-war generation of Soviet airmen learned to master jet aircraft. 

The "Yakovlev" school allowed in a short time the development of  a modern combat trainer airplane, the main feature of which is the reprogrammable multichannel digital fly-by-wire control system which allows changing the stability and control characteristics of the Yak-130 for training purposes depending on the airplane being simulated. 


The Yak-130 project was distinguished by perfect aerodynamics and a high thrust-to-weight ratio (on the order of 0.85). The airplane had a swept wing and empennage. The power plant included two Slovak Povazske Strojarne DV-2S turbofans with a thrust of 2,200 kilograms thrust each. The engine air intakes are equipped with devices to prevent foreign objects from getting into them. However, the installation of the economical AI-2252-2.5 turbofans with a thrust of 2,500 kilograms of thrust each of joint Russo-Ukrainian development (Motor Sich, the Zaporozh’e Progress Motor Building Design Bureau and the Moscow Salyut Motor Building Production Enterprise) has been provided for on series-built airplanes. The export variant of the Yak-130 may be equipped with the DV-2SM engine. The airframe service life is estimated at 10,000 hours of flying time and 30 years of calendar time with the possibility of prolonging it to 15,000 hours. 

As early as April 1996, the demonstration prototype Yak-130D was built and lifted into the air. By the present time, it has executed more than 450 flights, having confirmed at the same time the declared characteristics, including controlled flight at an angle of attack of 42 degrees, , which is an original world record for airplanes of this class. The simplicity of design, the high reliability of the airframe, power plant and aircraft systems, the full autonomy of the aircraft, and also the high service feasibility coupled with the low life cycle cost and high LTKh enable high quality training of flying personnel in short periods. The Yak-130 is capable of executing flights in all regimes peculiar to modern and future combat airplanes, including the Su-30 and MiG-29 families, the "Mirage,” F-15, F-16, “Eurofighter,” F-22, F-35 and others. 

Despite the successfully Yak-130 flight tests, service of the L-39 will be continued to 2010. And by this time, an airplane may become necessary with wider capabilities especially since the experience of modern military conflicts has revealed the sharp need for lightweight combat airplanes for direct support of ground troops. Thus, according to the Yakovlev chief designer, Konstantin Popovich, the idea has been born to built, using the basic Yak-130 UTS according to additional air force requirements combat training and lightweight strike variants of the airplane. 

Having increased the quantity of wing suspension points to eight, there has been success in bringing the combat payload weight up to 3,000 kilograms. Guided air-to-air R-73 with infrared guidance and Kh-25 air-to-surface missiles with laser guidance and also the KAB-500Kr aircraft guided bomb, for which they suspended a pod with the "Platan” optical electron system on the 9th - fuselage – hard point have been included in the weapons compliment. Moreover, the suspension of blocks of unguided B-8M and B-18 aerial rockets, 250 and 500 kilogram bombs and cluster bombs is provided for, and beneath the fuselage is a pod with the GSh-23 cannon.  The aircraft is able to carry not only weapons, but also suspended fuel tanks (PTB), and pods with reconnaissance equipment and radioelectronic and infrared countermeasures. 

Normal takeoff weight of the Yak-130 is 5,700 kilograms and maximum is 9,000 kilograms. Normal fuel weight is 1,800 kilograms and with two PTB it is 2,700 kilograms. Maximum flight range (without PTB) is 2,000 kilometers, and speed in level flight is 1,060 kilometers per hour. Maximum sustained G-loading is =8/-3 G, and established at an altitude of 5,000 meters is 5.4 G. Lift off/landing speed is 210/180 kilometers per hour, takeoff/landing run is 380/670 meters. 

On 16 March 2002, the air force commander-in-chief, Vladimir Mikhaylov, approved a document which was prepared by the competition commission for the selection of the lightweight training and combat training airplane. The Yak-130 was determined to be the winner.  As the chairman of the commission, General-Major Anatoliy Maksimov, reported, the Yak-130 exceeds its closest competitor the MiG-AT by more than 20 percent in total tactical and technical characteristics and integral characteristics. 


The integrated Yak-130 avionics complex with open architecture includes two computers and a three-channel multiplex information exchange system. For the resolution of navigational tasks, a strapdown system on laser gyroscopes and a GLONASS/NAVSTAR satellite navigation receiver are used. The installation of a radar (more correctly, the “Osa” radar) is provided for on the Yak-130, which is capable of the simultaneous tracking of eight targets and firing at four of them at all angles. 

The cockpit instrumentation of each cockpit has been created using three multifunctional color liquid crystal displays with a 6x8 inch format. The crew member who is in the forward cockpit is able to use the indicator on any screen also with the helmet mounted sight. Thus, in composition of armament and avionics, the Yak-130 meets the requirements for the fifth generation “bort.” 

As regards combat employment tactics, the Yak-130 is distinguished from the Su-25 attack aircraft and the A-10 which are able to execute tasks under the conditions of powerful firing resistance. It will be a component part of a unified reconnaissance and strike complex, in which are included unmanned aerial vehicles and ground-based air controllers who operation in the troops’ battle formations. Receiving information from them in real time (including also specific) with a precise geographic tie-in, the airman taking into account of the tactical situation selects the optimal route of approach to the target, by-passing enemy anti-air defense systems and makes an instantaneous precise strike on the first approach. 

A mock-up of the nose part of the Yak-130 UTS, which has been demonstrated at international air salons starting with Le Bourget 2001, , had an in-flight non-retractable refueling probe. Today the need to teach line airmen in-flight refueling is very acute. Therefore, part of the airplanes will be equipped with the probe, and part will have attachment points. The crew sits in new generation K-36LT3.5 ejection seats produced by NPO Zvezda, which assure ejection at zero speed and altitude. 

The achieved level of takeoff and landing performance, the presence of an auxiliary power unit with an alternator, on-board check and diagnostics system allow use of the Yak-130 from small and unprepared mountainous airfields. 

Further development of the Yak-130 is the single-place Yak-131 lightweight strike airplane (LUS), which is 90 - 95 percent in common with the main variant. The airplane's radius of action is growing to 1,000 kilometers. The 30-milimeter built-in GSh-301 cannon is installed on the Yak-130.  The nomenclature of the weapons systems will increase owing to the use of the "Vikhr’" missile with a laser guidance system. 

Such modifications as a ship-based training airplane, a lightweight reconnaissance airplane and an unmanned strike aircraft may be created based on the Yak-130. According to General-Colonel Vladimir Mikhaylov, the Russian air force plans to purchase up to 200 Yak-130 in the future. 

At the present time, the Yakovlev OKB is stirring up operation in the export market. The Yak-130 marketing program is being realized jointly with Rosoboronehksport. Analysis shows that the need for airplane of the Yak-130 class is from 800 to 1,200 aircraft. As experts believe, the agreement signed between AVPK Sukhoy and the Yakovlev OKB on the joint international marketing of Su and Yak trademarked airplanes will enable the success of the new UBS. The document provides for the formation of batch offers for foreign customers. It is important to note that the open architecture of the avionics allows the integration of Western manufactured guided missiles into the Yak-130 weapons composition: the AIM-9L “Sidewinder” and “Majic-2” and also the AGM-65 “Maverick.” 

The Yak-130 will be one of the main exhibits of the Russian exposition at the 45th Paris Air Show international aerospace salon, which will open in Le Bourget on 15 June 2003.

Source:  06.06.03, Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozrenie, Igor’ Spridonov