Irkut Corporation has started the development of an advanced strike-fighter derived from Yak-130 operational trainer, Izvestiya reports.
This move can be explained by the growing demand for light strike-fighters at the Russian and global markets. «The development was started several years ago and we plan to complete the first stage in 2013-2014. The strike-fighter derived from Yak-130 will be presented at international airshows soon”, — a representative of military-industrial sector familiar with the situation said.
He also noted that this work is being financed at the expense of Irkut Corporation. The vehicle will be fitted with high-tech equipment. The jet’s avionics will be compatible with high-precision weapons with laser, television and satellite homing.
The light strike-fighter segment is one of the most dynamic ones at the global market; however, Russia is not presented there. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russia is the world’s second largest exporter of combat aircraft (USA is the first one). That is why the situation in the strike-fighter segment is unacceptable, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) stated.
The classic strike-fighters like Su-25 (Russia) or А-10 Thunderbolt II (USA) are too expensive for the most importers ($25 – $60 million depending on the configuration and model). The light strike-fighters are much cheaper (under $15 million), such jets carry about 1 ton of armament, have no armor and such aircraft are equipped with weak weapon-aiming system, but it is enough for low-intensity conflicts.
Another advantage of the light strike-fighters is relatively low operating costs. The pilots do not need any additional training to operate such jets because they are derived from operational trainers.
The air forces approved the plans of Irkut Corporation. A source from Supreme Command of air forces said that the combat Yak-130 “has a great export potential” and it also may be used by Russian air forces.