The VietDefense‘s fanspage reported that the first batch consisting of six Yakovlev Yak-130 lead-in fighter trainer/light combat aircraft has arrived in Phu Cat Air Force Base, Bình Dinh Province, Vietnam. These Yak-130s will replace the aging airfleet of Czech built Aero L-39s training planes that have long been the staple of the Vietnam People’s Air Force. Camouflage for the Yak-130 of the Vietnam People’s Air Force is similar to that of Sukhoi Su-30MK2 multirole fighter, air superiority fighter. These Yak-130s are expected to serve with the Vietnam People’s Air Force 940th Aviation Training Regiment.
In 2019, Vietnam has signed a $350 million deal last year to buy a dozen combat training aircraft from Russia. The deal covers at least 12 Yak-130 combat training jet purchases. The publication did not indicate when the jets would be delivered to Vietnam. Intended for training pilots of advanced fighter aircraft, the Yak-130 can also be equipped with air-to-surface weapons. Vietnam would be the sixth country to import the Yak-130, Russia has previously sold the jets to Algeria, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Belarus. Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport hadn’t commented on the report that Vietnam had ordered 12 Yak-130s.
The Yakovlev Yak-130 (NATO reporting name: Mitten) is a subsonic two-seat advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft originally developed by Yakovlev and Aermacchi as the “Yak/AEM-130”. Development of the aircraft began in 1991 and the maiden flight was conducted on 25 April 1996. In 2002, it won a Russian government tender for training aircraft and in 2009 the aircraft entered service with the Russian Air Force. As an advanced training aircraft, the Yak-130 is able to replicate the characteristics of several 4+ generation fighters as well as the fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57. It can also perform light-attack and reconnaissance duties, carrying a combat load of 3,000 kg.
The VPAF operates 22 Yak-52 and 34 L-39C/Z. The operational conversion of pilots after their graduation therefore places a challenge on the combat units. Russia is the biggest arms supplier to Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Vietnam’s fleet deploys Russian-made fighters jets, surface ships and submarines. The contract paves the way for the purchase of more advanced jets from Russia, including the Su-30SM and the Su-35. Vietnam has been one of the world’s most active arms importers in recent years. Hanoi stepped up its imports amid China’s increasingly aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea, where the neighbors have long-standing rival claims.