Russian defense marketing agency Rosoboronexport believes Southeast Asia is a prime market for the Yakovlev Yak-130 two-seat advanced jet trainer/light attack aircraft. Malaysia and the Philippines, in particular, have shown interest in the trainer, according to Rosboronexport deputy general director Viktor Komardin.
During a recent visit to the Irkutsk Aviation Plant last year, Malaysian defense minister Ahmad Zahid Bin Hamidi hinted at an interest in parts manufacturing for the program. “There is a good probability that we will work with this aircraft. The details will be discussed,” he commented.
A $550 million order last year for 36 Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten combat trainers gave the program a boost. But this contract was reportedly from Syria, much to the annoyance of the U.S. Earlier this month Russia and China vetoed a European-backed U.N. Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against the Syrian regime, with which they have close trading ties. Last November, 16 Yak-130s were also committed to Algeria.
In December, Russia’s defense ministry signed a contract for 55 Yak-130s to be delivered between 2012 and 2015. “This will facilitate the training of Russian pilots for mastering new generation fighters on the eve of their acquisition in bulk,” said Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdjukov.
Irkut also is looking at upgrading the Yak-130’s armory with an opto-electronic aiming system and is reviewing the radar. Enhancement of the trainer’s combat characteristics are a requirement in local conflicts for a light attack aircraft armed with three tons of armory and capable of using guided weaponry, said Irkut president Alexey Fedorov. An in-flight refueling system is also being considered.
Currently, the Yak-130 is fitted for guided bombs with a caliber of up to 1,000 pounds. It is also armed with the 10-mile range R-73 short-range guided missiles.
According to the Russian manufacturer, the Yak-130 is a generation ahead of rivals such as BAE’s Hawk in technological terms.