Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

MAPO-MIG has agreed to buy Snecma/Turboméca Larzac 04-R20 engines and Sextant Avionique avionics for the first ten MiG-AT advanced trainers, in an agreement which may be underwritten by Fr400 million ($67.5 million) in French Government export guarantees.

The Russian air force has declared its intention to buy an initial batch of the aircraft, but has yet to be allocated the required funds in the Russian defence budget.

MAPO president Anatoly Manurev says that the air force is due to give official approval for the procurement in the first quarter of 1998, although he adds that MAPO is about to launch a worldwide marketing campaign, aimed initially at India and South Africa.

MAPO test pilot Roman Taskayev has flown familiarisation flights with Russian pilots, including the deputy commander-in-chief for acquisition, Lt Gen Yuriy Klishin, who has so far demanded that all components of the aircraft be produced domestically. Snecma vice-president Jean-Paul Bechaut says that he is open to discussions on joint production of Larzac engines with a Russian partner.

To date, the first MiG-AT has logged more than 200 flying hours in 303 flights, while the second prototype is to join the flight-test programme this month. Four further airframes are ready for the installation of engines and avionics at MAPO's plant in Moscow.

The Russian Air Defence Force (PVO) lost a Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound A on 26 September, when the aircraft crashed near Khotilovo air base after one of its Solovyev D-30 engines caught fire. Both pilots ejected safely.

On 1 October, a Sukhoi Su-27UBcrashed near Murmansk, killing both pilots. PVO commander Col Gen Victor Prudnikov says that pilot proficiency has suffered, with his pilots averaging only around 19h of flying experience a year because of a lack of funds.

Source: Flight International