Russian combat trainer Yak-130 is eyeing the Indian fifth generation fighter training market with flying characteristics which mimic the PAK-FA fighter which India has signed up to co-produce with Russia.
India's current advanced fighter training needs are met with the Hawk 100, an aircraft optimised for western aircraft such the Eurofighter Typhoon and potentially the Rafale. India had purchased the Hawks when no other advanced trainer was in active production.
However, with India's fighter fleet being composed mostly of Russian fighters such as the MiG-29, the Su-30MKI and in future, the PAK-FA fifth generation stealth fighter, the Yak-130 is a good fit, contends Konstantin Popovich, Vice President of Engineering Center of the Yak-130 project of Irkut Corp, which manufactures the combat trainer.
The Yak-130 can be digitally altered to mimic the fling and handling of a number of western aircraft including the Rafale. This has been made possible by using open-architecture digital aircraft avionics, a full digital glass cockpit, quadruplex-channel digital fly by wire (FBW) with digital channel back-up, and instructor-controlled and variable Fly-By-Wire handling characteristics to replicate a heavy, medium or light aircraft type. "This means it can train pilots to fly all the fighter aircraft types in operation in India", said Popovich on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show here.
The Yak-130 has another ace up its sleeve, it transforms itself into a true fighter with tremendous ground-attack capabilities. It has nine hard points: two wingtip, six under-wing and one beneath the centre fuselage. It can carry external wing combat fuel tanks, bombs weighing up to 500kg, guided bombs, rockets, a twin 23mm gun pod, R-73 infrared-homing air-to-air missiles, and electronic countermeasures pods and chaff and flare dispensers, up to a maximum combat load of 3,000kg.
"The Yak-130 can be weaponised and pushed into combat in a matter of hours", said Popovich. The advantages of this are obvious- the Yak-130 need not be based in a training base in the hinterland, but on a forward combat base where quick scrambling is the key to warding off an enemy attack. It will save on logistics as well as the trainee pilots can be based where the fighters are and not spend time at a dedicated training base.