Sokol has rolled out the first production Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced trainer, with a first flight planned for November. Two more flight-test aircraft and a structural-test airframe are in assembly. Russian air force commander Vladimir Mikhailov says the first Yak-130 squadron will be formed in 2005, upon completion of state acceptance trials, which require construction of 10 airframes.

The Russian air force selected the Yak-130 last year over the RSK MiG-AT, and provides funding for research and development. The production programme, however, is largely funded by Yakovlev, Sokol and the privately held Kaskol group. The air force requires 200 Yak-130s for pilot training and secondary attack duties, replacing the ageing Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, which is due out of service starting in 2010.

In comparison to the Yakovlev/Aermacchi YA-130 demonstrator, the Yak-130's maximum take-off weight is increased to 9,000kg (19,800lb) and it has a more slender fuselage, redesigned intakes and wing area reduced by 1.5m2 (16ft2). The aircraft also has a glass cockpit with three 150 x 200mm (6 x 8in) displays for each pilot and a newly developed navigation and weapons system. The number of pylons has been increased from six to eight.

Two 5,500lb-thrust (24.5kN) ZMKB Progress AI-222-2,5s have replaced Slovak-built Povaska Strojarne DV-2s. The engine is produced by Ukraine's ZMKB Progress, Motor-Sich and Russia's MMPP Salyut.

The Yak-131 strike version will have cockpit and engine armour, a 30mm GSh-301 gun, and either the Phazotron-NIIR Kopyo radar with mechanical or electronic beam scanning, or the Tikhomirov NIIP Osa passive phased-array radar. Other planned versions are an aircraft carrier combat trainer, reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned strike vehicle.

Yakovlev claims the Yak-130 costs half as much to operate as the BAE Systems Hawk. It has lower sustained turn rate than the Aermacchi M346, but 30% less cruise fuel burn, Yak-130 chief designer Konstantin Popovich says. Open architecture and multiplex databus allows for integration of Western weapons.

Source: Flight International