Russia plans to re-configure its Yakovlev Yak-130 combat training aircraft into a fighter-bomber for export.
The highly manoeuverable aircraft would challenge the likes of the Saab Gripen, BAE Systems Hawk 200 and the Pakistani-Chinese JF-17.
An executive of the Russian state-owned weapons exporter Rosoboronexport made the proposal at Paris Air Show on Thursday. The proposal would offer air forces which are unable to afford high-end fighter jets, a chance to operate a state-of-the-art machine that can fulfil several roles.
“If they ask us for a fighter bomber, we may offer the Sukhoi-32. But if some client wants to have this plane (Yakovlev-130) and nothing else, some time and effort will be required for coping with such a request, but it is quite realistic," said Russia’s chief delegate at the air show, Sergey Kornev.
The Yak-130 is a latest-generation trainer, whose digital on-board equipment can be reconfigured quickly to mimic various other aircraft.
Defenseworld.net had reported earlier that Rosoboronexport had made a presentation to Indian for developing a combat aircraft based on the Yak-130.
The trainer aircraft can carry a number of weapons as well, but still have not been certified as a combat aircraft.
However, its advantage is that it is very cheap. A Yak-130 costs just $15 million, while the average price of a fighter jet is more than $100 million.
Kornev said that the aircraft has the natural ability to progress to an attack aircraft that could eventually carry precision weapons.
Russia’s customers for the aircraft include Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, India and Syria.