Air Force shows first Yak-130

The program of Russia’s new Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer is moving into the production phase. At MAKS-2009 air show, held in August in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, the Russian Air Force displayed its first series production Yak-130 trainer. This aircraft, assembled at Nizhny Novgorod’s Sokol plant, made its maiden flight in May. The first batch of 12 Yak-130s was ordered in 2005. According to the Air Force Commander Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, now the procurement plans already include 72 aircraft that will replace the aging fleet of Soviet-ear Czech L-39 trainers.
The new jet trainer was developed by the Yakovlev Design Bureau, which later merged with the Irkut Corporation. In 2002 the Russian Air Force chose Yak-130 as its new jet aircraft for basic and advanced pilot training. It is equipped with a glass cockpit and a re-programmed fly-by-wire system that can replicate the characteristics of various Russian generation 4+ fighters as well future Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation aircraft.
It can also carry up to 3 tons of combat load. Besides the training purposes the Air Force plans to use Yak-130 as a light attack aircraft. As Zelin explained, it will be able to use guided weapons against ground targets.
Meanwhile, three Yak-130 prototypes continue their government trials. The first phase – testing with standard weapons, including short-range R-73 (AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles, 80 mm air-to-ground rockets, air bombs and 23-mm gun pod – was completed in May. Now the prototypes have moved to the second phase that includes trials with an expanded weaponry list. This is expected to be completed this year.
Besides the Russian Air Force Yak-130 already has a foreign customer. At the end of August the first export version of the trainer, assembled for Algerian Air Force, made its maiden flight at Irkutsk aviation facility, a subsidiary of Irkut Corp. This is the second production site for the Yak-130. According to the Irkut Corporation, the deliveries of 16 aircraft, ordered by Algeria in 2006, should start next year.
The company also notes that this trainer is the first Russian production aircraft built with the full use of digital technologies. In Nizhny Novgorod the digital technologies are used only for manufacturing certain assembly parts and components. According to Irkut, the use of digital technologies, coupled with lean management techniques, allows to improve the quality and to increase in the production rate of 25-30%.
Irkut’s president Oleg Demchenko points out that the Irkutsk facility is capable of rolling out 60 trainers a year, while the experience gained in digital technologies is important for the company’s plans to assemble Russia’s new MS-21 commercial airliner.   

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