Vietnam's Air Force Shops for New Trainer Jet

 - April 4, 2017, 7:31 AM
A Yak-130 was demonstrated at the 2014 Singapore Air Show. (Photo: Chen Chuanren)

The Vietnam People’s Air Force (VPAF) needs a new jet for training. Local media report that the service is close to selecting the Russian Yak-130, but the Czech-built Aero Vodochody L-39NG may also be in contention.

“We have been equipping ourselves with state-of-the-art fighters in recent years, but our training system still consists of the old Yak-52 and L-39,” said VPAF Commander Lieutenant General Lê Huy Vịnh at a pilot training conference held in Hanoi. “The operational conversion of pilots after their graduation therefore places a challenge on the combat units,” he continued. Vietnam operates 22 Yak-52 and 34 L-39C/Z. After the conference, the VPAF announced its intention to set up a new division dedicated to supersonic fighter training.

VPAF acquired 36 Sukhoi Su-30MK2 fighters between 2004 and 2016.

Before this year, the VPAF sent its prospective Su-30 pilots to Russia for training. But it has now turned to the Indian Air Force for this task, after the two countries signed a new defense agreement in December 2016.

Viktor Chernov, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) deputy director general for marketing and sales, said the company is now offering packaged training solutions to potential customers. These include the new piston-engine Yak-152 trainer with diesel or petrol options, as well as the Yak-130. “Countries that operate Russian-origin fighters will find it easy for their pilots to transition from the Yak-130,” he added.  

The Yak-130 has a glass cockpit and a fly-by-wire system from Avionica that can simulate the flying characteristics of Russian and Western bloc aircraft, including the MiG-29, Su-27, Su-30, F-15 and F-16. It is also able to simulate the handling conditions of aircraft in supersonic speeds, despite having  of top speed of only Mach 0.85.

Sixteen Yak-130s are already in service with the Bangladesh air force and three were delivered to Myanmar air force in late 2016.