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Mig-AT makes maiden flight

Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

The MAPO-MiG MiG-AT advanced trainer had its maiden flight at Zhukovsky airfield, near Moscow, on 16 March. The manufacturer is competing with Yakovlev, fielding its Yak-130, to replace hundreds of Czech Aero L-39s in service with the Russian air force and other CIS republics.

The aircraft took to the sky for what MAPO describes as "hop-off", lasting about 5min. In the second flight, on 21 March, officially referred to as the first in the test programme, the aircraft logged another 35min.

Russian defence minister Gen Pavel Grachev, attending the official presentation, says that he hopes that a fly-off between the MiG-AT and the yet-to-fly Yak-130 will determine the winner. The air force is interested in the new trainer in the light ground-attack role as well, says Grachev.

In spite of dire defence-budget problems, Grachev says: "The state has the money, and the trainer is an issue of state importance."

The MiG-AT is a product of Russian-French co-operation. It is powered by two Snecma/Turbomeca Larzac 04-R20s, each rated at 14kN (3,200lb) thrust and is equipped with Sextant Avionique and Thomson-CSF avionics.

MAPO deputy general-director Anatoliy Belosvet says that ten MiG-ATs of the pre-production batch of 15 have been completed.

The second aircraft will join the flight test programme in June, and the third or fourth airframe will be used for structural load tests. Belosvet estimates the price of the MiG-AT at $12million.

Negotiations on completing a licence agreement for production of Larzac engines in Russia "...are dragging on", says Belosvet, so initial batches will be equipped with imported engines.