The Russian Yak-130 light fighter and advanced combat jet trainer is making its maiden appearance over the skies of Langkawi, marking the entrance of the Russian type for the light fighter requirement of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).
The Yak-130 was designed primarily as a Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) for Russian fighter types such as the MiG-29 and Sukhoi SU-27/30 family and also fulfils a secondary combat role. Each flight hour in the Yak-130, is several times less expensive than these multi-role fighters.
Irkut Corporation has now produced more than 160 Yak-130s, which are in operation in Russia (110), Algeria (16), Belarus (8), Bangladesh (16) and Myanmar (10) with the Republic of Laos becoming the latest operator of the type in January, with six out of the 10 aircraft on order, already being delivered. Irkut is continuing the enhance the capabilities of the aircraft and is already testing a prototype aircraft that has been upgraded for the installation of a laser rangefinder.
In the combat role, the YAK-130 can carry 3 tonne of weapons on nine external weapons stations such as R-73E air-to-air missiles with IR homing head; KAB-500Kr smart bombs with TV sighting system; 50-, 100-, 250-, 500-kg aerial bombs; S-8, S-13, S-25 unguided air-to-ground rockets and an SNPU-130 pod carrying a GSh-23L gun with 120 rounds.
The combination of a helmet-mounted target designation system and R-73E missiles, allow engagement of aerial targets at ranges of up to 30 km. The nine external stations allow a variety of payloads such as weapons, drop tanks, electronic warfare pods, etc to be carried, depending on the mission profile. The Yak-130 has a combat range of greater than 600 km.
The airframer states that the Yak-130 is well suited for operators of the Su-30MKM/MKI/SM fighter aircraft, which are Malaysia, India, Algeria, Russia and Kazakhstan, respectively. In an effort to make the Yak-130 well suited for training 4+ and 5th-generation fighter pilots, a low thrust-to-weight ratio and less restrictive angle-of attack limitations, were major considerations.
The flight performance of the YAK-130 has been characterized as ‘Excellent’ by its pilots and 9 world records have been set by the aircraft in Class C-1F (Serial Ground-Based Turbojet Aircraft with Takeoff Weight from 6000 to 9000 KG).
Without external stores, the Yak-130 climbed to the altitudes of 6 km and 9 km in 102 and 164 seconds, respectively, breaking the records set by the U-2 spy plane. During the course of its record-breaking flights, the Yak-130 also broke a record set by the MiG-21.
Despite its record-breaking performance, the Yak-130 aircraft has been designed for deployment in austere conditions and unpaved airfields. The engine air intake doors close during taxi prevent ingress of foreign objects into the engines during takeoff and landing.
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