Procurement: Yak-130 Does It All


February 19, 2014:   Bangladesh recently ordered 24 Yak-130 jet trainers from Russia. This makes six export customers for Russia’s new jet trainer. One of these customers may not be able to complete the transaction. In late 2011 Syria agreed to pay $550 million for 36 Yak-130s. Russian officials recently (late January) admitted that delivery to Syria had not yet been made and probably won't as long as the Syrian government is dealing with a growing rebellion. If the rebels prevail the Yak-130 contract will most likely be cancelled. That is because Russia has been a staunch supporter, for decades, of the Syrian dictatorship. That support is purchased with economic and diplomatic favors from Syria. This is the sort of payback Russia wants for its support.

In 2011, seven years after deciding to adopt the Yak-130 as its new advanced jet trainer, Russia finally placed a substantial order for 55 of the aircraft. In 2008 Russia ordered a dozen and said it was going to order a lot more. But the global recession intervened and a shortage of money delayed the big buy until 2011.

The new Yak-130s for Russia are still being delivered. This is just in time because the existing Cold War era L-29 and L-39 trainers are rapidly falling apart. This big order also means that Russia is serious about increasing pilot quality. It makes sense for Syria to obtain the Yak-130s for the same reasons. The Russian Air Force received its first Yak-130s in 2009. Deliveries to the first export customer, Algeria, began in 2010.

Production of the Yak-130 began in 2007. The Yak-130 is capable of performing many of the tricky maneuvers of Russia's top fighters (like the Su-27, MiG-29, and many modern Western fighters). It can also perform as a light bomber. The ten ton Yak-130 can carry an external load of three tons (of bombs, missiles, cannon pod, or fuel tanks). Max range, on internal fuel, is 2,000 kilometers. The aircraft has a max speed of 1,000 kilometers an hour and a flight lifetime of 10,000 hours in the air. The pilot instructor and trainee sit one behind the other and two engines make it a safer aircraft to fly. Russia is selling the aircraft to foreign customers for $15-34 million each, depending on options and extras (like training and setting up maintenance infrastructure).

In 2012 the Russian Air Force decided not to use any Yak-130s as combat aircraft. The Russians had planned to buy 200 Yak-130s for use as light attack aircraft called the Yak-131. But it was determined that the pilots were too vulnerable. This was particularly critical for an aircraft that would often go low to deliver attacks. This would expose the aircraft to ground fire and the air force determined that it would be better to refurbish the older Su-25 ground attack aircraft instead. These are being upgraded to the Su-25SM standard.





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