The Yakovlev Yak-130 is an advanced pilot training aircraft that replicates the characteristics of 4+ generation fighters, such as the Su-30, MiG-29, Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale, F-22, and the F-35. The plane made its maiden flight in 1996 and entered service in 2010.
The plane has a number of outstanding characteristics: its cockpit is equipped with digital indicators; it can perform flights in nearly all regimes similar to modern and projected combat planes. The construction of its air scoops and gear enable it to take off even from small grass airfields.
But what struck the THE WEEK's Thomas Newdick most is the tiny plane's loads of devastating armament and its combat characteristics.
The Yak-130 can carry up to three tons of "air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, precision-guided bombs, free-fall bombs, rockets, gun pods, and external fuel tanks." In addition to that, it can be reinforced with a 23-mm cannon, air-to-air missiles and decoy launchers.
- MAKS 2013 airshow. Day Three© Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
- Yak 130© AFP 2020 / ADRIAN DENNIS
- Moscow. Aircraft crews rehearse for parade marking 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War© Sputnik / Alexander Vilf
- Russian Yak-130 plane performs a flight during a celebration marking the Russian air force's 100th anniversary in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012© AP Photo / Misha Japaridze
- A Yak-130 jet in a preliminary flight shortly before the opening of the 8th MAKS aerospace show in the Moscow environs© Sputnik / Maya Mashatina
- Yak-130 plane© Sputnik / Vladimir Fedorenko
- Yak-130 plane© RIA Novosti . Anton Denisov
- A Russian Yak-130 fighter jet shoots flares while perfoming a trick during the MAKS 2009 international aerospace show outside Moscow in Zhukovsky© AFP 2020 / DMITRY KOSTYUKOV
- Yak-130© Flickr / RS Deakin
- Military parade to mark 70th anniversary of Victory in 1941-1945 Great Patriotic WarHost photo agency
In its operation radius the Yak-130 can challenge the US F-16 fighter and function as a light strike aircraft.
Moscow and Rome joined efforts, and Italy manufactured trainer Aermacchi М-346, which resembles the Yak-130 but lacks the latter's repair capability. The US is considering to buy the Italian plane which may have an ironic consequence: the rival pilots of Russia and the US, learning to operate T-50s and F-35s, will be training with the same aircraft.