The Russian air force is seeking ways to speed up service-entry of the Yakovlev Yak-130 jet trainer and Sukhoi Su-34 strike bomber.

Next year, Sokol is due to complete the first batch of four pre-production Yak-130s for certification trials, says air force commander Gen Vladimir Mikhailov.

Russia needs 200 trainers, while a 800-1,400 international market is predicted for Yak-130-class aircraft by the Russians. The Yak-130 is being offered at $12-15 million a time.

Mikhailov adds thatSu-34 flight-testing will be accelerated. "This year we have made more flights than in the previous seven years… I have told Sukhoi that we either complete the work shortly or cancel it. The project has progressed too slowly over the years - we can not bear it any more," he says.

Sukhoi's NAPO Novosibirsk factory has completed only eight aircraft and is working on two more. Tests on the airframe and engines have been completed, but additional testing is needed on the avionics and weapons system.

The air force is considering the Su-34 as replacement for the Su-24 Fencer, including the special missions variants such as reconnaissance andchemical detection.

The Su-34 is equipped with a Leninets passive phased-array radar, an electro-optronic targeting system, a rear-looking radar and amodern electronic warfare suite.

Mikhailov adds that an agreement has been reached with Sukhoi to allow the company to upgrade Russia's surplus combat aircraft and sell them as part payment for upgrades of aircraft remaining in service.

"If [Sukhoi] manages to upgrade and sell them for the international market then we can raise the money to upgrade the remaining aircraft in our own inventory," Mikhailov says.

Source: Flight International