By Derek Bisaccio, @DerekBisaccio
Russia is looking to put the Yak-152 primary trainer aircraft into serial production next year, according to the Commander of the Russian Aerospace Force, Viktor Bondarev. The aircraft may begin production by March 2017.
Bondarev was quoted as saying, “The serial production of this plane is expected to start in March 2017. We should do this and I believe that industrial enterprises will do this.” He also detailed the aircraft’s schedule, noting, “The trainer is planned to perform its debut flight within the next two months. After that, it is expected to undergo trials and prove its inherent characteristics to be serial-produced.”
The Yak-152 program was resurrected in 2014, when Yakovlev Design Bureau received a contract worth 300 million rubles to develop a primary trainer for the Russian military. Under the development plan, Yakovlev Design Bureau would produce four prototype Yak-152 aircraft, two of which would conduct flight trials while the other two conducted various other tests.
All four prototypes were initially expected to be completed before the end of 2015, but were seemingly delayed. Earlier this month, Irkut Corporation, which is the parent organization of Yakovlev Design Bureau, showed off the first Yak-152 prototype, and other prototypes were visible at various stages of assembly. The flight prototypes are still expected to undergo flight testing this year, though further delays would push back serial production.
The plane was designed to be powered by one M-14X turboprop engine. At the Singapore airshow, however, a model Yak-152 was shown using a German diesel engine, called the A03T. Given Russia's efforts toward import substitution – a product of deteriorating political relations between Moscow and the West as well as hostility between Moscow and Kiev – it is likely that the model using German engines will be available primarily for export. Russia's Aerospace Force and other local customers of the aircraft are likely to receive the version powered by the M-14X engine.
A source in Irkut Corporation told AIN regarding the question of engines, "We were told to do everything to reduce dependence on import." He added that Russian customers were looking for a "completely Russian solution."
Moscow has completed an initial order of 150 Yak-152s, which was reported earlier this month. Once in service, the Yak-152s will replace Russia's aging fleet of Yak-52 primary trainers. The Yak-152s will serve as the first trainer for incoming pilots, who will later move on to more advanced aircraft, like the Yak-130 advanced trainer.
Similar to the Yak-130, Russia does not intend to use the Yak-152 in a combat role, but the option for arming the aircraft does exist. According to AIN, the aircraft can be armed with rocket pods, R-73 air-to-air missiles, or bombs weighing up to 220 pounds.
Compatibility with weapons systems gives export customers, particularly those on small budgets, the option of using trainer aircraft in light strike roles. While they would not hold up in a high-intensity fight, and would be vulnerable to advanced anti-aircraft systems, trainer aircraft could be used in counter-insurgency or similar efforts.
A timeframe for weapons testing on the Yak-152 has not been stated, but R-73s have been tested on the Yak-130. Earlier this year, in February, Belarus successfully carried out tests with its Yak-130s firing R-73 missiles.
The Yak-152's full specifications can be found on the product sheet on Irkut Corporation's website. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,490 kilograms. Its maximum speed is 500 kilometers per hour, with a range of 1,500 kilometers.
Enjoy our original articles? Consider supporting Conflict News with a small contribution on our Patreon page, to help us cover site host costs, and provide exciting new content in the future!