Yak-130 for India?
With the JSC IRKUT Corporation recently handing over an initial batch of six Yak-130 combat trainers to the Russian Air force, the company is weighing interest from India in the trainer that’s being moulded into a light-weight fighter. The Russian contract signed in 2011 involves the delivery of 55 trainers to the Russian Air Force by 2015. On October 5, pilots of Borisoglebsk training centre of the Russian Air Force ferried three Yak-130s from Irkutsk aviation plant to the Borisoglebsk base.
Oleg Demchenko, President of JSC IRKUT Corporation, noted: “Our company will continue increasing the production rate of combat aircraft within the state defence order. Now, together with the Sukhoi Design Bureau we are testing new Su-30SM multi-role fighters with pilot’s training functions. In 2012 IRKUT plans to transfer the first batch of aircraft this type to the Russian Ministry of Defence”.
Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who was recently in Delhi, said, “Equipping the Air Force with Yak-130 aircraft allow achieving a desired level of pilot’s trainings to handle new generation combat fighters, which are to be mass procured by the Military Department.” It is not clear just where interest in the Yak-130 could possibly spring from in the Indian context.
It is well known that the Yak-130 aircraft was offered for an IAF requirement for jet trainers in 2008, but was rendered ineligible as it hadn’t completed evaluation trials in Russia (the IAF subsequently decided to order more BAE Hawk Mk.132 advanced jet trainers). The Yak-130 has since completed all trials and is now fully operational with the Russian Air Force.
According to a company spokesperson, “Yak-130 new generation combat trainer provides top-class pilots training to handle Russian and foreign-made combat aircraft of the “4+” and “5” generations. Currently IRKUT Corp. is working on improvements to Yakovlev Yak-130 combat jet trainer that may turn it into a light attack aircraft. The first stage of modernisation includes the installation of an inflight refuelling system and optronic pod. In the next stage, designers plan to equip the aircraft with radar. The radar installation will provide the Yak-130 with target detection for airto-ground missiles.”
He adds, “We hope that the IAF will be interested in the Yak-130 new generation combat trainer as well. The Yak-130 offer for the IAF will include licence production as it was planned in 2008.”