Two quite different versions of the Yakovlev Yak-130 trainer are on display at le Bourget. The Yak forms the basis of Aermacchi's M-346 (shown in model form in the static park) being jointly developed for the international market, but the aircraft is also being separately developed to meet a long-standing but still unfunded Russian Air Force training requirement.

This requirement dates from 1991, and resulted in the RSK MiG-AT and Yak-130 programmes. Both aircraft flew in prototype form, the Yak-130D making its maiden flight on 25 April 1996.


Both MiG and Yak have claimed victory in the ensuing competitive evaluation, and both companies have claimed to have exclusively received launch orders for small pre-production batches of aircraft, though these claims cannot be positively confirmed.

Yak claimed that the Russian Air Forces had placed an ordered for an initial batch of 10 Yak-130s in January 1997, predicting that the first airframe would be completed by the Sokol factory at Nizhny Novgorod by mid-1998. The first three aircraft were expected to be used for company trials, and for the State acceptance trials at the Gromov Flight Test and Research Institute at Zhukhovskii. Nothing happened, and many suspected that the programme was moribund, though the Yak-130D continued to fly, testing new aerodynamic features as they were designed.

The programme has now been revived, and the aircraft is being jointly promoted by Rosoboronexport, Yakovlev and Sukhoi in a proposed export package consisting of Yak-130 trainers and Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role fighters. The first production aircraft has now been completed, and is being exhibited at Le Bourget.

The production Yak-130 differs from the original Yak-130D in using Russo-Ukrainian Progress AI-222-25 engines in place of the original Slovak Povaske Stojarne DV-2s, and has a new nose profile, without the flattened 'duck bill' and 'crease' and with a more conventional sharply pointed radome. The aircraft lacks the distinctive wing root 'fences' seen on the prototype and on the M-346, but does have a prominent 'dogtooth' on the tailplane root. Wing-tip missile launch rails are fitted.

It is understood that the aircraft is the first of three planned production-standard demonstrators, with flight tests expected to begin during 2004.

Source: Flight Daily News