Russia plans to deliver three fighter jets to Myanmar by the end of 2016, media sources reported Tuesday.
Earlier this year, information from the 2016 acquisition plan of the Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut had indicated that a batch of Yakovlev Yak-130 (Mitten) combat trainer aircraft and associated equipment could be delivered to Myanmar this year, along with a specialized full-mission tactical simulator to be delivered by the end of 2017. At the time, no further information about the exact delivery schedule was provided on the aircraft, which has an approximate export price of $15 million.
Now, a source has confirmed to the Russian daily Kommersant that the transfer will occur by the end of this year.
“The plan provides for the transfer of three aircraft to them [Myanmar] in 2016,” the source reportedly said.
The Yak-130, a Russian-made subsonic, two-seat, new-generation aircraft, was originally developed in the 1990s, with the prototype subsequently completing test flights and joint tests in the 2000s. Though it is classified as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT), which allows pilots to familiarize themselves with aircraft, it can also fly on genuine combat missions. And owing to several hard-points under each wing, the aircraft can support a combat payload weight of up to 3,000 kg, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, free-fall bombs, rockets, gun pods, and precision-guided bombs.
Myanmar signed the Yak-130 purchase contract in June 2015, three years after it had indicated its initial interest. Though the Russian Air Force still operates an overwhelming majority of the Yak-130s made thus far, other countries have expressed interest in buying them as well, including several from Latin America and North Africa.
As of now, Myanmar would become the fourth export customer for the Yak-130 after Algeria, Bangladesh, and Belarus. Previous reports have also indicated plans to export the aircraft to other countries, including Azerbaijan, Syria, Serbia, and Vietnam.