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Yak-130 is frontrunner for Russian light attack role

VLADIMIR KARNOZOV /MOSCOW

Better performance design helps Yakovlev's next generation aircraft to beat MiG-AT rival

Yakovlev's Yak-130 has emerged as the Russian air force's favoured next-generation trainer and light attack aircraft, beating the RSKMiG-ATto a potential order for 200 aircraft.

Although the Russian air force has not yet revealed its decision, RSK and industry sources say the Yak-130 has been selected.

The Yak-130 has long been considered the leading contender, despite the MiG-AT programme's more advanced state, due to RSK using more non-Russian components, including a French engine and avionics.

Despite having leasing talks, the Russian air force has remained cautious about the MiG-AT, partially because the straight-wing aircraft is a lower-performance design compared with the Yak-130.

A recent specification change added a secondary light attack role - a further blow to the MiG-AT. The air force is considering a radar-equipped, single-seat light attack version of the winning trainer. The Yak-130 is understood to be better suited to these changes.

Ukrainian engine manufacturer Motor-Sich says it has orders for 10 ZMKB Progress AI-222 engines, worth $10 million, which are destined for Yak-130s being assembled at the Sokol factory in Nizhny Novgorod. The older, Slovakian-built PSLMDV-2, powering the only flying prototype, could still be used by the Moscow-based MMPP Salyut factory, which is striving to establish local production in co-operation with Klimov.

The air force says it will continue MiG-AT trials that began last September and it could lease a squadron of aircraft from RSK until production Yak-130s are available.

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