Aermacchi is pressing ahead with plans for certification by 2003 of a fully "Westernised" version of the Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced/lead-in fighter trainer (left), following the signing of an intergovernmental agreement between Italy and Russia.

The deal should ensure that sufficient funding is available to complete development of the aircraft, known as the Yak/AEM-130, a joint venture between Italy's Aermacchi (holding 50%), Russian design bureau Yakovlev (25%) and manufacturer Sokol (25%). The agreement also includes guidelines on the transfer of intellectual property between the partners.

The aircraft is a strong contender to meet Slovakia's requirement for a light attack aircraft, boosted by the fact that it is powered by Slovakian-built Povazske Strojarne DV-2s. The single prototype built was shown at SIAD '99, displaying aerodynamic modifications, including the removal of the winglets, which had been used in the original design to meet the Russian air force's requirement for a low approach speed.

Other changes include the introduction of vertical surfaces over the wing leading-edges to improve handling at high angle of attack (AoA), and a leading-edge "saw tooth" to improve roll characteristics.

Aermacchi Yak/AEM-130 programme marketing manager Paolo Mezzanotte says the first Westernised pre-production aircraft is set to fly in 2001, with "certification following in two years".

The prototype has completed 18h in 185 flights. "We have largely completed exploration of the flight envelope," says Mezzanotte.

"We are extremely satisfied with the results we have achieved at 41º AoA in cruise configuration, still with sufficient control, and at 35º AoA, with full aerodynamic control in three axes."

A design feature of the fly-by-wire Yak/AEM-130 is its ability to emulate at the touch of a button the handling characteristics of other aircraft types, including the Mikoyan MiG-29.

If the aircraft is put into series production, Aermacchi will produce the wing, empennage, cockpit canopy, nose section and avionics. Russian industry will supply the fuselage.

Source: Flight International