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Sokol restarts production of Yak-130s

VLADIMIR KARNOZOV / MOSCOW

Russian air force commits but manufacturer warns that it cannot fund research and development of aircraft alone

The Sokol aircraft factory in Nizhny Novgorod has restarted work on four Yakovlev Yak-130s from an initial production batch, following the selection of the advanced trainer by the Russian air force last month.

Airframe components were made several years ago, but assembly work was stopped due to a lack of commitment from the air force.

Yakovlev says it has invested company money - around 40% of the total production cost - and that two airframes have been paid for and are due for completion this year and next.

Yakovlev warns, however, that its own resources will not be sufficient to complete the research and development of the aircraft.

The Russian defence ministry has reportedly given approval and funding for the production of 10 Yak-130s, presumably the Yak-130-01 combat trainer variant.

Yakovlev has invested $26 million in Yak-130 development, while earning $77 million from the sale of data to Italy's Aermacchi, which is developing the M346 based on the same airframe. The company's net profit was 617 million roubles ($19.8 million) last year and 467 million roubles in 2000, says Yakovlev president Oleg Demchenko. The bulk of the company's income is from the upgrade and support of Yak-40 and Yak-42 airliners.

Meanwhile, the Yak-130, with Slovak-built PSLMDV-2 engines, is being offered to Slovakia in trainer and light attack configurations as payment for Russia's $800 million debt to Bratislava. Russia has also agreed to overhaul 189 RSKMiG-29s as part of the repayment plan.

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