The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) has recently received an undisclosed number of Yakovlev Yak-130 ‘Mitten’ advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft from Russia. This acquisition aims to bolster both the training and combat capabilities of the IRIAF. The revelation came to light through footage and imagery posted online on September 2, showcasing at least one Yak-130 aircraft adorned with IRIAF markings and high-visibility livery, featuring the national serial number 7-9701. This aircraft was filmed in action at the 8th Tactical Air Base located at Isfahan International Airport. While the Iranian government confirmed the procurement of these aircraft from Russia, no further details were disclosed regarding the final number of aircraft received, the delivery timeline, operating units, roles, or basing arrangements. Iran’s acquisition of the Yak-130 represents a significant step in strengthening its aerial capabilities, both in terms of pilot training and potential combat readiness.
The Yak-130 ‘Mitten’ aircraft shares a striking resemblance with the Leonardo M-346 Master and the HAIG L-15 Lieying, as they share a common development path. This twin-seat, twin-engined advanced jet trainer aircraft boasts a secondary light attack capability. The IRIAF’s Yak-130 was displayed with underwing and wingtip pylons, indicating its readiness for a secondary role. It is equipped with nine hardpoints suitable for carrying rocket pods, air-to-surface missiles, machine guns/cannons, and guided and unguided bombs. Originally developed by Yakovlev and Aermacchi as the “Yak/AEM-130,” the Yak-130 has also been promoted as a potential light attack aircraft. Its development began in 1991, culminating in its maiden flight on April 25, 1996. In 2002, it secured a Russian government tender for training aircraft, subsequently entering service with the Russian Air Force in 2010. Renowned for its advanced training capabilities, the Yak-130 can replicate the characteristics of several 4+ generation fighters, including the fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57. Additionally, it is proficient in light-attack and reconnaissance duties, capable of carrying a combat load of up to 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds).
The Yak-130’s remarkable training capabilities stem from its open architecture digital avionics, compliant with a 1553 Databus. It features a full digital glass cockpit, a four-channel digital Fly-By-Wire System (FBWS), and Instructor-controlled and variable FBWS handling characteristics, along with embedded simulation capabilities. Further enhancing its operational prowess are a Head-up Display (HUD) and a Helmet-Mounted Sighting System (HMSS). The aircraft boasts a double GPS/GLONASS receiver, ensuring highly accurate navigation and precision targeting. Developers estimate that the Yak-130 can cover up to 80% of the entire pilot flight training program. Beyond its training role, the Yak-130 stands ready to fulfill light attack and reconnaissance duties, carrying a diverse combat load that includes various guided and unguided weapons, auxiliary fuel tanks, and electronic pods. Chief designer Konstantin Popovich noted that during testing, which concluded in December 2009, the aircraft successfully accommodated “all airborne weapons with a weight of up to 500 kg that are in service in the Russian Air Force.” The Yak-130 boasts nine hardpoints for weapons attachment: two wingtip, six under-wing, and one under-fuselage.