The Italian air force has had initial briefings on the Yak/AEM-130 advanced jet trainer, as the Aermacchi/Yakovlev joint programme becomes increasingly an Italian venture due to Russia's financial woes.

In a separate move, the Italian Government is planning to provide around L390 billion ($241 million) in funding over the next few years to help continued development of the aircraft.

The air force does not yet actually need a new trainer, and will not do so for several years to come, after the Aermacchi MB339 was updated with a glass cockpit in 1997. Considerable pressure from the industry ministry to support local manufacturers resulted in the air force getting 15 MB339CDs which were not requested, and it is possible that a replacement advanced jet trainer could appear in future programme goals for similar reasons.

The first prototype has been undergoing test flights at Aermacchi's Venegono headquarters since mid-July, chiefly to expand the flight envelope and sort out problems in the fly-by-wire system.

Aermacchi is responsible for the wing, canopy, flight controls, avionics, environmental control system and electrical systems. The demonstrator is thought to be larger than the planned final production airframe. Four pre-production aircraft are to be built, of which three will be tested in Italy.

Source: Flight International