The Russian government puts serious money into promoting the Yak-130 (Як-130) advanced training jet. The new aerobatic team AIRheads↑Fly wrote about on 27 December 2013, will have a full dozen aircraft of the type. Meaning all 12 additional purchases announced so fare will go to the display crews.
The number was confirmed by spokesperson of Irkut manufacturing company, which will build the aircraft designed by Yakovlev. The first five will be delivered in 2014, the remaining seven in 2015. According to him the training for the hot shots manning the planes has already been going on for half a year now, with the display pilots coming from the current instructors and trainees of the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy and the Gagarin Aviation Training Center at Borisoglebskaya Air Base.
Although no name has been disclosed, it was already confirmed in December that the Yak-130 team will make its debut during the Victory Parade in the skies over the Red Square in Moscow on 9 May 2014. The Yak-130 team will be an addition to the existing Russian military display teams Strizhi with its MiG-29s and Vityazi (Russian Knights) with its Su-27s.
First flight of the Yak-130 was on 25 April 1996. Between 1993 and 1999 the Yakovlev design bureau worked together with Italian Alenia Aermacchi on the type, which might be the reason why the Yak-130 and the Italian M-346 have similar looks.
Made with a secondary combat role in mind, the Yak-130s can deploy a range of weapons up to 3000 kg on nine external hardpoints. The includes air-to-air missiles like the P-73E IR, tv-guided KAB-500Kr precision bombs, drop bombs of 50 / 100 / 250 / 500 kg, unguided rockets S-8 / C-13 / C-25 and a SNPU-130/GSH-23L gun pod. Moreover the combat range of 680 km can be extended with two PTB-450 external fuel tanks making the ferry range 2,100 km.
The Yak-130 is gaining interest abroad. Apart from Russia, the Mitten (NATO-reporting name) also flies with the Algerian Air Force (16 aircraft). Mongolia (1), Belarus (4), Syria (36) have ordered the aircraft and Vietnam is said to be interested in receiving 8 Yak-130s. Most recently Bangladesh ordered 24 Yak-130s.
Source: Irkut with additional reporting by AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger