IAF chief to fly this advanced aircraft on Russia visit

The Yak-130 was offered to the IAF for its long-running need for an advanced trainer

Yak-130 Irkut A Yak-130 with weapons underneath its wings | Irkut

Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa will be on a goodwill trip to Russia from July 9 to July 12.

In addition to interacting with senior officials of the Russian military and visiting major installations, Dhanoa will also be flying a sortie on a Yak-130 trainer jet, the Indian Air Force revealed on Monday.

The Yak-130 was designed by the Yakovlev design bureau towards the end of the Cold War. The twin-engine aircraft is not unfamiliar to the Indian Air Force. The Yak-130 had been offered to the Indian Air Force for its long-running requirement for an advanced jet trainer (AJT). The AJT contract was finally awarded to the British Hawk aircraft in 2003. The Yak-130 was still undergoing testing at the time; the first aircraft was delivered to the Russian Air Force only in 2009.

In 2004, Russia's Irkut Corporation, which manufactures Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters for the Indian Air Force, offered to jointly develop a variant of the Yak-130 for the Indian Air Force with the DRDO. The proposal went nowhere as the Indian Air Force placed a repeat order for the Hawk and currently operates over 100 of these British-origin trainers.

The Yak-130 is a newer design than the Hawk, which was designed in the early 1970s. It offers near-supersonic speed and is touted as being able to better simulate the performance of 'fifth-generation' fighters such as the US F-22 and Russian Su-57.

It is also able to carry up to 3 tonnes of weapons such as bombs, rockets and air-to-air missiles for combat missions. In addition to the Russian Air Force, which operates over 100 Yak-130 jets, the aircraft is also operated by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Algeria and Belarus.

The visit to Russia, a major supplier of crucial defence equipment to India, will be among the last major trips by Dhanoa until he retires in the end of September this year.