Julian Moxon/PARIS

WINDTUNNEL tests of the latest configuration of the Yakovlev/Aermacchi Yak-130/AEM trainer at the Italian company's Milan headquarters have revealed aerodynamic characteristics "similar to those of the latest generation of combat aircraft", says Aermacchi technical director for the programme, Pierclaudio Iaia.

The Yak-130/AEM is a rival to the VPK-MAPO MiG-AT for a major Russian air force order for a new trainer. Under the 1992 co-operation deal, Aermacchi provides financial and technical support, but is also taking an increasing role in its development. It has the right to modify the aircraft and market it to Western customers. A demonstrator aircraft was flown earlier this year and has undergone ten flights so far after initial problems with a winglet deforming caused the winglets to be removed. It is now being fitted with test equipment and will be flown again in mid-August, says Iaia. Up to 200h of flight tests are anticipated, the results of which will be fed into the four prototypes, which will be built in the final configuration. Of these, one will be assembled by Aermacchi in Italy. The aircraft will be around 15% lighter than the demonstration model, says Iaia, with the wing area reduced by 1m2 (11ft2), to 23.5m2, and the fuselage length reduced by 0.66m, to 11.2m.

In over 1,000h of windtunnel tests on a one-tenth scale model, the Yak-130/AEM demonstrated high angle-of-attack handling "comparable to that of the [Lockheed Martin] F-16 fighter", says Aermacchi. "With a few minor modifications, a revised configuration has been developed to provide even better aerodynamic characteristics, similar to those of the latest generation of combat aircraft," it says.

The tests also showed that the Yak-130 could be fitted with a longer, more conventional, nose, "-clearing the way for installation of a Western radar", says Aermacchi. The four prototypes and the series-production aircraft will be powered by two 21kN (4,800lb)-thrust Slovakian Povaske Stojarne DV-2S turbofans, which are upgrades of the current DV-2 engine installed on the demonstrator. "At this stage of the programme, we are quite happy about the baseline DV-2S," says Iaia, "but we are keeping the door open for possible customer-required alternatives, such as the AlliedSignal F124 or Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour."

Aermacchi is "still talking" to Yakovlev about installing a Western fly-by-wire flight-control system and avionics, although the company has already agreed to supply parts, including all the composite structures, the secondary power system and the air conditioning and oxygen systems, "-with the aim of reducing the weight of the aircraft", says Iaia.

Little information has emerged in recent months about the progress of the Russian trainer competition, which was scheduled to have been decided in 1995.

Source: Flight International