Yak-130 Sales Mount as Russia Orders More

 - April 20, 2016, 12:44 PM
A Yak-130 advanced combat trainer in Russian air force markings. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

The Russian defense ministry has awarded Irkut Corporation a follow-on order for 30 Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced combat trainers, for delivery by 2018. The move brings the grand total of such aircraft ordered so far by Russia to 109. The company, which is a subsidiary of the UAC group, holds orders for a further 40 from three export customers.  

The Russian Air and Space Force (VKS) uses the Yak-130 in the role of intermediate and advanced weaponized trainer, so that trainee pilots can master maneuvers and weapons employment that is characteristic of the fourth generation front-line Sukhoi and MiG fighters. Last year, Irkut’s IAZ factory handed over 12 Yak-130s to the Russian military. With that, the maker has completed shipments against two contracts, one for 55 aircraft received in 2011, and another for 12 aircraft received in 2013. Another maker, NAZ Sokol, delivered 12 such aircraft in 2010-2011 under the initial 2005 contract. VKS now has roughly 30 Yak-130s at Armavir and 40 at Borisoglebsk air force bases, where its fighter pilot flight schools are located.

In January 2014, authoritative sources in the Irkut corporation told AIN that new orders for the Yak-130 that are expected to be placed by the Russian defense ministry by 2020 will amount to as many as 150 aircraft. Coupled with export orders, this would necessitate an increase in annual production rate to some 30 airframes.

Export shipments so far have been 16 to Algeria, four to Belarus and 14 to Bangladesh. Four more aircraft are due for delivery this year to Belarus and a final pair to Bangladesh (which also holds eight options). In addition to training of fighter pilots, overseas operators employ the type in some combat roles, including anti-shipping (Algeria) and close air support (Bangladesh, Belarus).

According to sources at Irkut, by the end of this year the grand total of Yak-130 exports “shall exceed forty.” This may suggest that deliveries could yet be made to Syria, which placed order for 36 aircraft (including options) just before the civil war broke out. Damascus was expecting a first batch of Yak-130s in 2014-2015, but the ongoing civil war precluded shipments.

Since the Syrian Arab Air Force has suffered considerable combat and attrition losses in the course of hostilities with moderate rebels and ISIS, any shipments of modern aircraft would be most welcome by the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. In this connection, the Yak-130 seems the most affordable of the options available to the Syrian regime. The aircraft can deliver both precision-guided munitions and unguided weapons such as rockets, bombs and cannon.