Russia’s Yak-130 Trainer & Light Attack Jets
May 5/14: Syria. Russian media report that Russia plans to send an initial batch of 9 Yak-130 jet trainers to Syria by the end of 2014, then finish the order by delivering 12 in 2015 and 15 in 2016. Kommersant reportedly cited “a source close to Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport,” and says that the decision follows a $100 million advance payment in June 2013, covering the first 6.
The fact that Assad’s regime and Hezbollah are widely seen as winning the civil war probably helps some, and Russia seems a lot less interested in what America or Europe think of them. Sources: RIA Novosti, “Russia to Provide Syria with First Batch of Jet Trainers until End of Year”.
Russia’s air force (VVS) aged badly in the wake of the Cold War, and the recapitalization drought soon made itself felt in all areas. One of those areas involved advanced jet trainers, which form the last rung on the ladder before assignment to fighters. Russia’s Czech-made L-29 and L-39 trainers were left with questionable access to spare parts, and a competition that began in the 1990s finally saw Yakolev’s Yak-130 collaboration with Italy’s Finmeccanica beat the MiG-AT in 2002. Unfortunately, Russian budget realities allowed orders for just a dozen early production Yak-130s, even as the VVS’s L-39 fleet dwindled drastically.
The Yak-130’s multi-mission capabilities in training, air policing, and counterinsurgency make it an attractive option for some customers beyond Russia. Initial export successes helped keep Yak-130 production going in those early years, mostly via a confirmed order from Algeria (16). In December 2011, however, Russia finally placed a significant order that got production started in earnest. Russia continues to promote the aircraft abroad, and now that the plane’s future is secure, interest and orders are picking up…
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