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«TAKE-OFF» Magazine,June 2005

«YAK-130 COMBAT TRAINER OF NEW CENTURY»

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 A second production-configuration aircraft has entered the flight trials of prospective combat trainer Yakovlev Yak-130 in April this year. Work is underway under the contract with the Russian Air Force (RusAF) that selected the Yak-130 for service with its flight schools, in May, the new aircraft was submitted for the official trials slated to wrap up next year, after which the aircraft wilt be fielded. Under the concept of the Yakovlev design bureau, the Yak-130 designed for advanced flight training of military pilots, as well as for training them in combat tactics, is an element of the training complex comprising the Yak-152 (Yak-52M) primary trainer, a ground simulator and a computerised classroom. Having landed the contract with RusAF, Yakovlev is concurrently promoting the Yak-130 on the global market in cooperation with the Irkut company, with the Rosoboronexport state-owned company as an intermediary. India, Malaysia and, possibly Algeria, as well as some other countries are believed to be potential buyers of the advanced combat trainer. The Yak-130 is promoted on the market along with the Irkut-manufactured Su-3OMK multirole fighters. Thus, the customer is offered a set of a world-best fighter and a full set of training hardware for pilots to fly it. Of the hardware, the key thing is the Yak-130 combat trainer that can be used as a light combat aircraft, if need be.
 

Background

It has been 40 years recently since the Soviet Air Force and several other air forces fielded the Czech-made L-29 jet trainers. In 1961, the L-29 was selected in a competition (mostly, due to political considerations) for the future trainer for the Warsaw Pact countries, having one-upped the Soviet Yak-30 and Polish Iskra. Since then, Czech-made trainers have made up the mainstay of the air force academies in many countries. In 1974, the L-29 was ousted by the more-advanced L-39 powered by the Soviet-built AI-25TL turbofan. By the time the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the Soviet Air Force had had about a thousand L-39 in its inventory. They constituted the backbone of the trainer fleets operated by the military flight schools. In the early 1990s, the Czech Republic ceased to supply new aircraft and spares. The in-service trainers were growing old, with their service life nearing expiry due to their being used heavily.

In addition, given the en-masse conversion to the fourth-generation Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters with radically novel characteristics and given the even more capable fifth-generation fighter's development underway, the L-39 was unable to provide adequate training to advanced fighters' pilots.

These considerations prompted the Soviet Air Force in the early '90s to have the development of a new tactical flight crew trainer launched. The need for replacing the L-39 with a brand-new trainer was voiced by the Soviet Air Force's commander-in-chief, Air Marshal Yefimov, on 20 April 1990. In the summer 1990, the first official document was issued. It was the resolution by the State Military Industrial Commission, dated 25 June 1990 and tasking the Mikoyan design bureau with developing the future trainer.

Under the specifications requirements approved in October 1990, the advanced aircraft was to be powered by two engines as well as have a landing speed of within 170km/h (92kt), run and roll measuring 500m (1,640ft) at the most, unprepared airfield basing capability, a ferry range of 2,500km (l,350nm) and a thrust-to-weight ration of 0.6-0.7. In addition, the customer wanted the reprogrammable stability and controllability for the aircraft to be-fit for training pilots from all branches of the Air Force. The requirement for the trainer to be made of Russian parts only vas high on the customer's v-ish list. According to RusAF command's-estimates, at least 1,200 advanced trainers were necessary to oust the L-39 fleet. The first new trainers were to be received by users in 1994.

To reduce technical risk and obtain the best aircraft, the military called for a trainer aircraft competition among major Soviet aircraft developers. In January 1991, specifications requirements for a trainer for future tactical aircraft pilots were sent to MiG, Sukhoi, Yakovlev and Myasishchev. On 25 November 1991, Air Force CINC Col.-Gen. Pyotr Deynekin ordered a commission set up to review the conceptual designs submitted by the four bidders. The outcome of the tender was to be known on 15 January 1992.

Competition

Rather loose specifications requirements caused the bidders' different approaches to resolving the same problem. Each developer offered a concept of the complex as a whole and an aircraft in particular.

Prospective trainer specifications approved on March 1993

¥
Flight performanceData
Normal take-off weightwithin 5,500 kg (12,000lb)
Thrust/weight ratio 0,6 - 0,7 
Maximum speedat least 850 km/h (460kt) 
Maximum Machat least 0,8 - 0,85
Cervice ceilingover 10.000 m (32,00ft)
Minimum speed210 - 220 km/h (113 - 119kt)
Range1,200 km (650nm)
Ferry rangeover 2,000 km (1,080nm)
Maximum angle of attackat least 25 degr. 
Take-off speed, m190 - 200 km/h (103 - 108kt) 
Runwithin 500 m (1,640ft) 
Rollwithin 700 m (2,300ft)

Sukhoi submitted the conceptual design of the S-54 aircraft - a single-engine derivative of the Su-27 fighter. It was to be powered by a single NPO Motor's R-195FS engine that was to be developed as an afterburning version of the production R-195 turbojet powering the Su-25 attack aircraft and producing supersonic speed of Mach 1.55. Unlike other contenders, the S-54 was intended for basic and advanced training. Sukhoi suggested the very concept of training on the 'common' aircraft be reconsidered. In the opinion of Sukhoi's design team, a combination of requirements for the initial, basic and advanced training capabilities in a single aircraft could be achieved at the expense of either safety or training quality.

 Projects of alternative trainer aircraft for RuaAF tender, top to bottom - Sukhoi S-54, Myasishev M-200 and Mikoyan MIG-AT, 1992
 
 A model of Yak-130 (then UTK-Yak), 1992
 

The Mikoyan design bureau strived to minimise the cost of the future trainer's development, which left its imprint on the style of its programme as a whole. Mikoyan submitted the conceptual design of the Aircraft 821 fitted with the straight wing and manual control system. The aircraft was designed 'around the engine': the Ivchenko-Progress AI-25TL was the only feasible option at the time. Special attention was paid to the plane's economic efficiency. Thus, while the annual training cycle on the L-39 called for 24.4t (53,7501b) of kerosene, Aircraft 821 could ensure a drop down to 20t (44,0001b) a year. The hope for developing the most efficient trainer was seen as a solid argument for Mikoyan's design dubbed later MiG-AT.

Myasishchev placed emphasis on technical training aids, offering its conceptual design of the UTK-200 trainer complex comprising the M-200 trainer aircraft and the complex's ground segment - NUTK-200. The latter included technical and flight crew training classrooms, simulators to train in general and special flight regimes, an integrated flight simulator with the moving cockpit and an air combat simulator with the fixed cockpit in a sphere. These were integrated through compatible software and the common supervision system. The M-200 trainer looked similar to the West European AlfaJet while featuring the reprogrammable control system. The M-200's powerplant was to include two future RD-35 engines had been under development at the Klimov plant.

The Yakovlev design bureau opted for an integrated development of the training complex designated as UTK-Yak. The complex comprised technical training aids (computer display classrooms, PC-based procedural simulators, functional simulators integrated through the use of common software) and the UTS-Yak aircraft later rechristened Yak-130. To enable the aircraft to fly at high angles of attack, it was to be fitted with a moderate-sweep wing featuring low aspect ratio and large leading-edge root extensions (LERX). Early in the development, the Yak-130 was to be powered by Ivchenko-Progress AI-25TL engines proven on the Yakovlev's Yak-40 passenger aircraft. Later, the AL-25TLs were to be replaced with a pair of Klimov RD-35s or Soyuz R120-300s. Close attention was paid to making the trainer's operation easier and self-sustained.

The Air Force commission faced the aggressive pressing of the contenders. Sukhoi's conceptual design earned the top aggregate points, but was rejected anyway. It failed to meet one of the specifications requirements as the single-engine design. Still, the commission's resolution submitted to the Air Force chief for approval stated, "The conceptual designs of the Sukhoi and Mikoyan design bureaux do not meet the specifications requirements", suggesting that "the development and mock-up manufacture of the UTK-Yak and UTK-2000 be continued". However, Mikoyan did not put up with the failure and insisted they should be allowed to carry on with their bidding.

In July 1992, the Air Force's scientific and technical committee summed up the outcome of the trainer conceptual design competition and took a decision worthy of Solomon: "The trainer's initial designing shall be conducted on the competitive basis by the Yakovlev design bureau in cooperation with the Myasishchev experimental plant and Mikoyan design bureau." However, the Air Force awarded only two contracts in late 1992 - one with Yakovlev and the other with Mikoyan. They were to submit their initial designs in the fourth quarter of 1993.

In search of Allies

Due to insufficient financing by the Air Force, Yakovlev and Mikoyan had to look for investors interested in their trainer programmes.

The MiG-AT programme proved to be of interest to the French who offered their Turbomeca Larzac 04 engines and Thomson avionics to fit the trainer. The hardware offered had proved to be unneed-ed due to the termination of production of the AlfaJet ousted by the UK's Hawk from the market.

Italian company Aermacchi took interest in the UTS-Yak programme. Aermacchi's MB-326 and MB-339 had been operated in 14 countries by then but its AMX combat trainer developed in cooperation with Brazilian Embraer had been mostly sidelined on the market. And the Hawk was about to gobble the Italian chunk of the market again.

In summer 1993, RusAF's command, concerned about the two Russian developers' apparent eagerness to build a plane for any Western buyer, decided to remind them that it still existed by setting up a commission for a preliminary review of the initial designs. The commission highlighted the UTK-Yak programme as more thoroughly detailed in autumn 1993. As far as the MiG-AT is concerned, the Larzac 04 was noted for its obsolescence and the problems inherent in any deriving a Russian engine from it. The two initial designs were reviewed in March 1994. By then, both developers had started making their first prototypes. Despite the obvious preference for the UTK-Yak, the commission noted in its report a 'special opinion' of the Air Defence Force leaders in favour of the MiG-AT programme.

The discussion that followed ended up in the approving the competitive pursuance of the programmes, which was to be paid for by means of non-budgetary investment until comparative Russian engine-powered aircraft flight tests were conducted. The budgetary monies were to be spent on developing future Russian engine RD-35.

Teaming up with Italians

Yakovlev were allowed by the Russian president and the government to team up with foreign developers and potential buyers. Says Yak-130 programme chief designer Konstantin Popovich: "In 1993, we started working with Italian company Aermacchi that from the outset showed keen interest in ourtrainer, having seen its bright prospects. The joint research started with outlining the con- figuration of the trainer to adapt it to both international and Russian Air Force standards. Based on all trainers in the world, which we were going to rival, the Italian partners proved that there would be no demand for pure trainers in 2001-05, with combat trainers to be in demand only. Therefore, the maximum speed of the Yak-130 had to be increased at least to 1,050 km/h (570kt) to enable it to rival the Hawk. The second consideration touched upon the payload that had to be at least l,500-2,000kg (3,300-4,4001b). Another key requirement was to enable the aircraft to operate from austere (Category 3) airfields with runways 1,000m (3,280ft) tops. The plane's range was important too. Therefore, selecting characteristics for the Yak-130, especially the wing area, we proceeded from the requirements normally set for combat trainers and provided seven hardpoints in the design from the outset. There are nine of them now.

"The shape of the aircraft evolved accordingly. We decided against the sharp nosecone in favour of the one accommodating the Osa or Kopyo radar or an IRST (infrared search and track) station depending on the customer requirements. These considerations were taken care of as early back as the early designing stage.

"Standard manoeuvres of up-to-date fighters, e.g. the F-16, MiG-29, Su-27, were analysed. It turned out to be that they used 20-25 deg. angles of attack pretty often even at transonic speeds. Designers figured out that there was the trend of available alpha growing to 40 deg. and more. Hence, the combat trainer had to be super-manoeuvrable.

Therefore, we went for the aerodynamic configuration typical of fifth-generation aircraft, hence, the shape of the wing, all-moving stabiliser, good high-lift devices to ensure excellent takeoff and landing performance and manoeuvrability, and vertical tails shifted fore of the stabiliser to provide good spin handling characteristics. These considerations were taken into account at the designing stage, i.e. we were developing a trainer and a combat trainer wrapped in one from the very beginning. These characteristics of the aircraft's export variant were approved by the Air Force."

The joint Yakovlev-Aermacchi programme was designated as Yak/AEM-130.

Demonstrator

The first prototype - the demonstrator built by Yakovlev and Aermacchi - was dubbed Yak-130D. Its airframe had been completed by late 1994, with the Yak-130D making its debut at the Le Bourget air show in June 1995. It had not flown yet and was shown as a static display, having been airlifted to Le Bourget by a transport plane.

 Yak-130D demonstrator plane
during demo flight at MAKS'97 air show
 

The demonstrator's powerplant was built around two RD-35 (DV-2S) turbofans 2,200 kgf (4,8501b) each. The RD-35 was a derivative of the Slovak-made DV-2. The DV-2 was developed by Ivchenko-Progress (Zaporozhye) in 1984 to power new Czechoslovak L-39MS trainers and combat trainers. In 1990, the DV-2 underwent state tests, with its full-rate production kicking off at Slovak company Povazske Strojarne. The development of the DV-2S (RD-35) version adapted to power the Yak-130D was handled by the Klimov plant in St. Petersburg under the 1994 license agreement with the Slovak company.

The Yak-130D completed its maiden flight on 25 April 1996 from the LII Flight Research Institute in Zhukovsky with Yakovlev's test pilot Andrey Sinitsyn at the controls (the first MiG-AT prototype took off for its first mission from the same airfield on 16 March 1996). In 1997, the aircraft was successfully demonstrated as part of the MAKS '97 air show. By then, it had logged more than 150 flights, many of which had taken place in Italy. The Yak-130 D also flew in Slovakia that was mulling over the Russo-Italian combat trainer as the alternative to its ageing planes.

Says Konstantin Popovich: "Over the five years of cooperating with Aermacchi, we had conducted a huge number of flight tests at the excellent testing facility of Aermacchi. The flight test tempo was rather high - 120 missions over six months. The aircraft was fitted with telemet-ric equipment down-linking telemetry to ground facilities in real time".

 Top:Yak-130D in demo flight at MAKS 2001. After separation of Yakovlev and Aermacchi programs the aircraft got new camouflage paintjob.
Bottom: Since 2000 Yak-130D was used in favor of development of the Yak-130 production standard combat trainer. The picture shows aircraft's capabilities to carry various combat load. R-80 AAMs and B-8M1 and B-13L rocket pods are under the wing with R-73 AAM, KMGU pod and UPK-23-250 gun pod are on the ground. 

In all, the Yak-130D's flight tests included about 450 test flights. 1999 saw the demonstrator undergoing special flight tests at the GLITs State Flight Test Centre in Akhtubinsk, involving military test pilots. The aircraft completed the bulk of its test flights in 2002, and a decision was taken in mid-2004 to mothball it: the demonstrator had done its job. The Yak-130D test programme provided a huge amount of data on how such a configuration influenced the plane's behavior. The experience gained was used in refining the production aircraft's configuration. In addition, a number of test programmes completed by the demonstrator became unnecessary for the production Yak-130 to undergo. As far back as January 1997, RusAF announced it was going to order a low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch of 10 Yak-130s to be made by the Sokol plant in Nizhny Novgorod.

Italian Divorce

Starting from a certain stage of the programme, Yakovlev and Aermacchi had strived to develop a common aircraft. However, the requirements of the Russian Air Force and Aermacchi were different in principle, with RusAF rejecting an aircraft comprising foreign-made components and Italians rejecting components made in CIS member countries. Hence, a decision to develop common documentation, the so-called baseline model of the aircraft, which would be used by each party to build a national version of the Yak/AEM-130. That suited Yakovlev though some rights for the aircraft had to be relinquished to Aermacchi. However, this earned Yakovlev some money. The programme would have had to be terminated but for the money. This also allowed the Russian government to pay its debt to Italy. The government encouraged Yakovlev developing ihe Yak-130's Russian version and paid off the debt in rubles without transferring money abroad. This is how the problem of funding the Russian variant of the Yak-130 was resolved.

 The Italian spin-off of the Yak/AEM-130 programme - the M346 trainer - started its tests a bit later than the production variant of the Yak-130. Its development kicked off in January 2000, with the first example rolled out on 7 July 2003. From the airframe design standpoint, the M346 is very similar to the experimental Yak/AEM-130. Principal differences are Honeywell F124-GA-200 engines and a western avionics suite. A substantial difference from the current Yak-130 is the M346's being a trainer, rather than a combat trainer. The M346 technology demonstrator first flew on 15 July 2004. A second M346 is to enter testing this year, with the M346 prototypes to total three. There have been no specific customers f the M346 so far.. 

In late 1999, the Russian and Italian programmes went their own ways finally. Based on the design documentation provided by Yakovlev, Italians began to develop and build their own trainer, M346, with Yakovlev carrying on with developing the Yak-130 combat trainer and its further derivatives for the Russian Air Force. The former partners under the Yak/AEM-130 programme did not terminate their cooperation. The parties agreed to divide markets and cooperate on promoting the Russian and Italian successors to the Yak/AEM-130 on the global market.

Government Acquisition

The dire straits the Russian economy found itself in after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, coupled with the reform of the Russian Air Force, adjusted the Yak-130 programme's timescale and the demand for trainers. By the late 1990s, RusAF had retained only three flight schools instead of 12. The flying hours totalled by their cadets dropped by an order of magnitude. Due to that, the need for replacing the L-39 fleet (about 650 aircraft) was not as urgent as before, with their expected upgrade allowing an extension of their service life till 2010-15.

However, the L-39 was only good as a basic trainer. This and the experiences in local armed conflicts highlighted the need for RusAF to field a combat trainer, rather than a pure trainer. Minor modifications would turn the combat trainer into a light combat (strike) aircraft. Such an aircraft could come in handy to both RusAF flight schools and combat and conversion training centres (CCTC). This would ensure a five to six-fold drop in combat and conversion training costs: let alone the plane's price itself, a huge amount of avgas would be saved through using Yak-130s to accomplishing the missions previously handled by other warplanes. The Yak-130 burns as little as 600kg (l,3201b) of fuel on a standard mission, i.e. almost by an order of magnitude less than, say, the Su-27.

 The first Yak-130 of series configuration in the hall of Sokol plant, 2003.
 

On the verge of the new millennium, the Russian Air Force finally made up its mind on its future main combat trainer. The Yak-130 was named the winner of the protracted competition. RusAF ordered the first batch of four Yak-130s from the Sokol production plant. At first, two flying examples and two examples for static tests were to be made in 2001-02. Later, the plan was adjusted, as was the schedule.

The first production Yak-130's airframe was made by Sokol in January 2004 and given to Yakovlev for static tests. The first flying Yak-130 was completed soon afterwards. The aircraft numbered 01 was flown on its first mission by Yakovlev's senior test pilot Roman Taskayev from Sokol's airfield on 30 April 2004. Another two flying examples were about to be completed. The second aircraft (side number 02) joined the flight trials in spring this year. It first flew controlled by Yakovlev's test pilots Vassily Sevastyanov and Roman Taskayev. The third flying example is to start its flight tests in autumn 2005. Unlike the two first production aircraft, which construction was paid for with non-budgetary money, the third one is to be fully financed by the Air Force. To date, its airframe has been completed and is to be fitted with avionics and other systems. All Yak-130 examples flight tests have been insured by the Russian Insurance Centre.

 Nizhny Novgorod-based Sokol plant
began manufacturing Yak-130 aircraft in 2001.
Picture shows the first aircraft assembling. 

In February this year, RusAF Commander-in-Chef Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov ordered the Yak-130 official testing commission established and the first two Yak-130s submitted for trials in May 2005. Phase 1 of the trials, which is to underlie the preliminary authorisation for Yak-130 full-rate production, is slated for December 2005. The full cycle of the official trials, including spin, combat tactics and other tests, is to be completed in 2006, following which RusAF will start taking deliveries of the advanced combat trainer.

Production Combat Trainer

The production Yak-130 is somewhat different from the Yak-130D technology demonstrator. This is due, first of all, due to the change in its purpose - the Yak-130 turned from a trainer into a combat trainer. Its fuselage nose section has changed noticeably, with its cross-section becoming more rounded, which indicates its ability to house a radar. Additional launch pylons appeared on the wingtips to mount short-range air-to-air missiles or electronic warfare (EW) pods.

The production aircraft's configuration has been optimised considerably, with aerodynamics becoming superior to those of the technology demonstrator. The Yak-130 became shorter, and its wing area and mid-section shrunk. Its configuration become tighter and its weight diminished.

Another important difference between the production Yak-130 and the Yak-130D is the former's advanced AI-222-25 engines producing 2,500kgf (5,5001b) of thrust each. The AI-222-25 was developed by Ivchenko-Progress and is being productionised jointly by Motor Sich (Zaporozhye) and MMPP Salut (Moscow). According to Yakovlev's Director General/President Oleg Demchenko, the AI-222-25 "has proven itself well enough, which proves that our choice was right. The engine meets our requirements in full. In addition, we know the capabilities of Ivchenko-Progress and Motor Sich well, because Yakovlev's Yak-40 and Yak-42 are powered by their engines. The AI-222-25 is made in cooperation with the Salut plant in Moscow, so the Russian Air Force will receive Yak-130s fitted with engines made by a Russian company in line with the customer's requirement".

 The first series-configuration Yak-130.
 

In addition, the production Yak-130 is the first Russian aircraft to feature the all-digital avionics suite. This is a matter of principle because no other Russian aircraft can boast such a degree of avionics' digitisation. All of the Yak-130's avionics are latest advances of the Russian aircraft industry. The aircraft is fitted with the integrated digital fly-by-wire control system allowing stability and controllability to be altered for the training purposes depending on the performance of the aircraft being simulated, as well as to alter the automatic control system's and the active flight safety system's characteristics. The control system's reprogramming capability allows the Yak-130's dynamics to be altered and the stability and controllability of virtually any up-to-date warplane to be simulated. Owing to this, the Yak-130 allows 80 per cent of the pilot training programme to be covered.

The Yak-130 is a key component of the training complex comprising ground training aids, simulators, the Yak-152 or Yak-52M initial trainer and the training control and supervision system. At the initial stage of training, the Yak-130 can be more forgiving of rookies' errors, which will make it easier for them to acquire flying skills. For training in special flight regimes and air combat tactics, the reprogramming capability will enable the Yak-130 to simulate the dynamic characteristics of many planes, e.g. the MiG-29, Su-27, Su-30, etc. Actually, any warplane can be simulated, including the F-15, F-16, F-18, Mirage 2000, Rafale, Typhoon and future fifth-generation US fighter F-35, etc. All the pilot will need to do is enter the software model of the simulated plane's control system in the onboard computer. There may be several such models stored in the onboard computer, which can be selected in flight at will.

 The first series-configuration Yak-130 and its weapon: R-73 air-to-air missiles, B-13L rocket pod and KAB-500Kr guided bomb (under the wing); RVV-AE air-to-air missile, B-8M1 rocket pod, Kh-25M air-to-surface misile, free fall bomb and UPK-23-250 gun pod (on the ground, right to left).
 

The Yak-130 has the 'all-glass cockpit'. The pilot stations are fitted with three 6x8-inch color multifunction liquid-crystal displays (LCD), with the fore station having a head-up display (HUD) as well. The LCDs can display any controls of any fighter.

The concept of the combat trainer provides for a weapons suite and the ability to simulate tactics of different combat aircraft. The eight underwing and one underbelly hardpoints can mount a 3,000kg (6,6001b) payload, including four R-73 air-to-air missiles, four Kh-25M air-to-surface missiles, 57mm (2.24in), 80mm (3.15in), 122mm (4.Sin) or 266mm (10.Sin) rockets in four UB-32, B-8M1, B-13L or PU-O-25 pods respectively, four 250kg (5501b) or 500kg (l,1001b) bombs (FAB-500, BetAB-500, ODAB-500 or OFAB-250-270), RBK-500 disposable cluster bomb units, ZB-500 incendiary canisters, drop tanks, underbelly podded guns and pods housing targeting systems, reconnaissance, electronic warfare (EW) equipment, etc. The Yak-130 could also be provided with the mid-air refuelling system. This will expand its capabilities as trainer and combat aircraft. To be able to fight, the modified Yak-130 can be equipped with the integrated Osa (Wasp in Russian) or Kopyo (Spear) radar- and podded IRST targeting system, e.g. the Platan (Plane tree).

However, cadets had not to fire live missiles and rockets and drop live bombs to learn to fight. The integrated combat employment simulation system simulates aerial combat, air-to-air heat-seeking and radar-homing missile launches, deployment of the integrated self-defense aids, ground attacks with smart, dumb and gunnery weapons and use of self-defense aids in the face of simulated enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) launches and electronic counter-measures (ECM).

 The Yak-152 and Yak-52M piston-engine initial trainers are part of
the training packaged wrapped around the Yak-130 combat trainer. The Yak-152
is designed for initial training and professional selection at the early stage.
The avionics allows rookies to learn using advanced flight, navigation, communications
and targeting equipment. The aircraft is to be used by aviation clubs and military
flight schools to train skilled military and aerobatic pilots quickly and inexpensively.
Until the Yak-152 next-generation plane is fielded, initial training will have been
conducted on the Yak-52's upgrade, the Yak-52M, which official trials
were completed this spring. The Yak-52M differs from the production Yak-52 trainer,
of which 1,800 have been made, in better performance and the range that has increased
up to 900km (490nm). About 30 per cent of its avionics have been upgraded. An important feature
of the Yak-52M is the SKS-94MYa ejection system and an advanced canopy cockpit
with a better vision. The 308th aircraft repair plant in Ivanovo has learnt to upgrade
Yak-52s to Yak-52M standard. The Russian Air Force plans to buy about 20 Yak-52Ms before 2006. 

Owing to its aerodynamic configuration and performance, the Yak-130 can fly in virtually all flight modes that up-to-date and future combat aircraft are capable of. Large leading-edge root extensions (LERX) and the design of air intakes ensure stable controlled flight at alpha up to 40 deg. The air intake covered by special meshing during take-off, landing gear designed for unpaved airstrips and excellent take-off/landing performance make it possible for the Yak-130 to operate from small austere airfields, while the oxygen generation system wrapped around the oxygen generator boosts its self-contained operation capability. The TA-14 or Saphir-5 auxiliary power unit allows the engines to start. This increases the plane's self-sustained operation capability.

The Yak-130's simple design, high airframe and systems reliability, long service life and complete self-contained operation capability, coupled with its high maintainability, low-cost life cycle and superb flight performance, permit quality training of flight crews in the tight timeframe.

Customers

Today, the principal customer for the Yak-130 is the Russian Air Force. According to Yakovlev's First Deputy Designer General/Technical Director Nikolay Dolzhenkov, RusAF "has ordered four aircraft so far. An order for another 10 in being finalise. As far as further plans are concerned, the Air Force CINC mentioned 200-300 aircraft". The number indicates RusAF's requirements for the coming 10-15 years, during which almost all remaining L-39s will be written off due to the expiry of their service life.

Although the number of planes ordered by RusAF has not been specified yet, Sokol has already landed a contract for a 12-ship pilot batch to be manufactured during 2005-07, with production expected to kick off once Phase 1 of the official trials is complete and the preliminary report is issued. The first aircraft of the pilot batch may be delivered in mid-2006 and the last one by late 2007. Then, the Yak-130 output at the Sokol plant may be about 12 planes a year. "RusAF is making up its mind as for the order volume," says Nikolay Dolzhenkov. "The number has not been named yet but it far exceeds the current four planes. Yak-130s will replace L-39s in the first place. A regiment or even two regiments should be activated at the Air Force academy in Krasnodar to train pilots to fly the Su-27SM upgraded fighters and fifth-generation aircraft expected by 2015. By that time, the training air regiments will have had to be activated in Krasnodar to train rookies to fly future aircraft."

 Another "relative" of the Yak-130 (a remote one, frankly) is the L-15 supersonic trainer China develops with Yakovlev's assistance. Says Yakovlev's Director General Oleg Demchenko: "Our full-scale cooperation with the Chinese aircraft industry dates back to 2000 when the AVIC II corporation, based on Yakovlev's advances in Yak-130 development, invited us to join the L-15 supersonic trainer development programme. The L-15 developer is the Hongdu company in the city of Nanchang, a specialist in developing such planes. Its K-8 trainer is in production and sells well enough on the global market. The L-15 is being developed to meet the requirements of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Yakovlev's role is consulting, which can be called scientific and technical support of the aircraft development programme. We are participating at the preliminary design stage, while the Chinese side is fully in charge of working out the design documentation and making the aircraft. This is a Chinese plane. The Chinese designers just correlate their technical solutions with the opinion of ours." A full-scale mock-up of the new-configuration L-15 was unveiled at the Zhuhai air show in November 2004. Hongdu plans to build its first flying L-15 in 2005. Its flight trials are slated for the same year. 

Mention should be made that RusAF command, especially the service's chief, Gen. Vladimir Mikhaylov, pay close attention to the Yak-130 programme, doing their best to expedite the fielding of the combat trainer. Gen. Mikhaylov has recently tried his hand at the Yak-130 in flight, having completed a 30min. familiarisation mission. He was very pleased with the aircraft: "I have spent 25 years in the back seat, training rookies, but I have not seen such a superb aircraft before. It is easy to control and meets up-to-date requirements. Having trained on this aircraft, rookie pilots will feel confident in the cockpits of advanced planes."

The RusAF highlighted the Yak-130's top-notch manoeuvrability and safety at high angles of attack (AoA) and within the 200-800km/h (108-430kt) speed bracket and ability to mount up-to-date weapons, "which none of the aircraft in its class will be able to carry". On the same day of 11 February 2005, Yak-130 familiarisation flights at Sokol's airfield were flown by RusAF's CINC deputy chief for aviation, Lt.-Gen. Alexander Zelin, and Lt.-Gen. Yury Tregubenko, chief of the 929th State Flight Test Centre where the Yak-130's Phase 2 of the official trials is to be conducted.

The familiarisation ride completed, Gen. Mikhaylov said that building another two production Yak-130s, stepping up their tests and completion of the latter's main phases in 2006 would enable the first production planes to arrive to the 4th CCTC in Lipetsk and the Air Force academy in Krasnodar as early as next year. "The service needs around 300 such aircraft, and we will buy them gradually," the RusAF chief opined.

 RusAF's Commander-in-Chief General of the Army
Vladimir Mihailov (right) and Yakovlev's chief pilot
Hero of the Russia, Roman Taskaev after familiarisation
flight in the Yak-130. 11 February 2005.
CINC is satisfied with new aircraft. 

However, the domestic market is just one of the many for the Yak-130 to conquer. Several countries - Russia's traditional partners in arms trade - are keen on the aircraft. For instance, talks are underway with and presentations have been held in India, Algeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and several African states. Yakovlev and Sukhoi have reached agreement that the Yak-130 will be offered as part of the package order to buyers of Sukhoi's warplanes. The Yak-130's components have been heavily commonised with those of the aircraft of the Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 families.

However, practice proves that every specific order leads to fitting the aircraft with avionics preferred by the customer's air force. Yakovlev is prepared for this. The Yak-130's avionics suite meets MIL-STD-1553 standard, hence there is no problem with fitting the plane with new avionics. In so doing, the avionics suite is not rebuilt, but adapted to the customer's requirements, because all systems meet the same standard. According to expert estimates, the market capacity for aircraft in the Yak-130 class is about 1,000.

Yak-130 production combat trainer specification

CharacteristicsData
Lenght, m (ft)11,245 (36,9)
Wingspan, m (ft) 9,72 (31,9)
Height, m (ft)4,76 (15,6)
Wing area, sq.m (sq.ft)23,5 (252,6)
Wheelbase, m (ft)3,95 (13,0)
Main wheel track, m (ft)2,53 (8,3)
Overnose, deg:
- front seat16
- back seat6
Maximum take-off weight, kg (lb)
- trainer5,700 (12,600)
- combat trainer9,000 (19,800)
Normal take-off weight, kg (lb)5,700 (12,600)  
Fuel load, kg (lb)
- normal880 (1,940)
- maximum1,750 (3,850)
Maximum payload, kg (ft), m3,000 (6,600) 
Maximum speed, km/h (kt)1,050 (570)
Maximum Mach number, m0,95 
Service ceiling, m (ft)12,000 (39,300)
Operating g-load, m+8..-3 
Maximum sustained g-load (H=4,570m (15,000 ft), M=0,8)5,6
AoA, deg.up to 40 
Operating range without drop tanks, km (nm)1,060 (570)
Ferry range, km (nm).2,000 (1,080) 
Combat radius,km (nm)
- without drop tanks540 (290)
- with drop tanks870 (470)
Take-off run, m (ft)335 (1,100) 
Landing roll, m (ft)490 (1,600)
Take-off speed, km/h (kt)195 (105) 
Landing speed, km/h (kt)180 (97)
Assigned life, flight hours10,000  
Number of landing 20,000
Calendar life, years30 
Outlook

Actually, developing and launching production of the combat trainer is only the first step in implementing the Yak-130 programme. Its airframe's excellent design, top-notch aerodynamic characteristics and advanced avionics suite allow a whole family of Yak-130 derivatives to be developed with minor modifications. Among them are a light strike aircraft, a light multirole combat aircraft, a reconnaissance aircraft, an EW platform, a carrierborne trainer, etc. The Yak-130's derivatives are being sketched out in both twin-seat and singleseat versions. According to the press, the twinseat combat trainer with a more sophisticated targeting system (e.g. integrated radar) may be designated as Yak-131 and the family of single-seaters (light attack, recce and EW aircraft) may be dubbed Yak-133. In addition, another Yak-130 spin-off may be the Yak-135 supersonic light attack/multirole aircraft. Such warplanes can be very effective in limited and local wars at far less cost than fourth- and fifth-generation dedicated combat aircraft.



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