Third User Of The Mittens in Southeast Asia

Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten performing a display at LIMA 2019. Zaq Sayuti.

SHAH ALAM: Third user of YAK-130 Mitten in Southeast Asia. Vietnam reportedly had placed an order for at least 12 YAK-130 Mitten trainers from Russia. If the deal is confirmed, Vietnam will become the third user of the YAK-130 in Southeast Asia after Myanmar and Laos. Russian media outlet Vedomosti says the contract is worth $350 million.

The translated report.

Russia and Vietnam have returned to cooperation in the supply of aviation equipment. As two managers of defense industry enterprises told Vedomosti, in 2019 a contract was signed for the purchase of at least 12 Yak-130 combat training aircraft worth more than $ 350 million. The squadron of Russian aircraft acquired by the Vietnam Air Force should replace the obsolete Czechoslovak L-39s. delivered to the country since the beginning of the 1980s, one of the interlocutors says, probably, the Yak-130 will be transferred to the 915th training aviation regiment, formed at one of the Vietnamese air bases in 2018. The regiment also includes a helicopter squadron of the Air Force Vietnam People’s Army, the armed helicopters of the Mi-8.
Rosoboronexport and the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FS MTC) refrained from commenting.

Yakovlev YAK-130 Mitten performing a display at LIMA 2019. Zaq Sayuti.

As you are aware RMAF is also seeking around 8 to 10 jet trainers or in RMAF parlance, the Fighter, Lead In Trainer (FLIT) as part of its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme. The YAK-130 are one of the aircraft which is being considered for the programme as the manufacturer had responded to the RFI issued by RMAF. The YAK-130 was among the aircraft took part in LIMA 2019 following the issuance of the RFI.

Yakovlev Yak-130. Wikipedia

The LCA has also been in the news lately although the Defence White Paper approved by Parliament late last year failed to expressly said that funding will be provided for the programme in the next RMK as envisioned by the RMAF planners.

Leonardo M346. Leonardo.

As mentioned in the Russian report, the YAK-130 meant for Vietnam are jet trainers though it must be said these aircraft could easily be used as combat aircraft.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Congratulations to vietnam on the order. Their fast jet training path is long overdue for upgrades.

  2. Mitten can not reach supersonic speed. TA/FA50 is better.
    Need for the rookie to feel a supersonic speed before jump into real fighter

    Not really both of our training jets, Hawks and MB339s are not supersonic.

  3. Jun Tau,

    Assuming there’s a requirement and money; the Poles will be more than happy to sell. There are still numbers of uncompleted hulls at the factory. Assuming we want them, assuming we have the cash and that there’s an actual requirementt.

    Gripen is not a LIFT platform. The whole idea behind the LCA requirement is for a platform that can double as a lift and one with an air to air and air to ground capability.


    The danger is that we’ll end up buying something that doesn’t meet our requirements merely because the seller is willing to accept palm oil …

    If the issue of spares and support can be adequately guaranteed, if the Yak-130 from a technical viewpoint meets our requirements, if the engines and other components have a higher TBI/MTBF compared to ones on previous aircraft and if no extensive integration is not required; then it can be considered.

  4. Jun Tau,

    The Ukrainian bustle loader was already around as far back as 2001. It was offered together with a 120mm gun for the Middle East market. For some reason it was never offered to us. Way before the PT was considered; DEFTECH was the local agent for the T-84.

    If it was up the Poles they would go for a all
    Leopard fleet : more survivable, more growth potential and commonality with NATO partners. The problem is finances and the need to keep Bumar Laberdy in business. As the article states, a problem is that it’s the Russians who make high end ammo and ERA. Erawa is next to useless against current gen KE penetrators.

  5. I thought the replacement for the hawks/MB339s will be the replacement for mig29 too?
    Hence the need for a supersonic lca

    Not really, the Mig29s were supposed to be replaced by the MRCA

  6. Poland is going for K2 tank now by the looks of it. 800 of them too.

    The elephant in the room is the meddlesome CAATSA. Is it really worth it to get sanctioned simply for couple of trainers? Even the old man, for all his jabs at the US, isn’t that stupid to tempt such move

  7. From DWP,

    Pesawat Tempur Ringan (Light Combat Aircraft, LCA) untuk Bantuan Udara Rapat (Close Air Support, CAS), Serangan Udara Medan Tempur (Battlefield Air Interdiction, BAI) dan operasi pemintasan.

    We cannot wait for 10 more years to have MRCA to take up the QRA tasks that was previously tasked to the retired MiG-29N. The LCA needs to be able to do peaceime supersonic interception as part of QRA alert, while doing so much more economically compared to MKM or Hornets. If we did learn something from the MH370, as a sovereign country we need to have peacetime 24h QRA capability.

  8. @JunTau
    The Gripen is nearly as expensive as F-35. Why on earth do you think we have that much money for an LCA, and even if we do I would have prefer to get F-35s instead.

    IMHO no new Russian equipment until they admit responsibility for MH17.

  9. …. – “The LCA needs to be able to do peaceime supersonic interception as part of QRA alert””

    Ideally it would be supersonic but with regards to QRAs it also depends on the circumstances, i.e. how much reaction time does a QRA flight have, is the plane that’s going to be intercepted flying towards or away from the QRA, is it a hostile fast mover or a slow commercial plane?

    …., – “We cannot wait for 10 more years to have MRCA to take up the QRA tasks”

    We can’t wait that kind for a lot of things; whether MPAs, UASs, hulls for the RMN, etc. The problem is the government isn’t in a rush. No sense of urgency to date, on its part.

    …, – “ as a sovereign country we need to have peacetime 24h QRA capability””

    Which we’ve had for decades; ever since we got the ex RAAF Sabres. Even when serviceability rates are down and at the expense of other things; we also maintain a 24 hour QRA, all year around; as you’re aware. Presently QRAs are mostly the responsibility of the Hornets.

  10. So many speculation but do we even know what are TUDM specific requirements for the FLIT & LCA?

    No but one can infer it from the aircraft that responded to the RFI. At the end of the day it will be the government which decides on the aircraft to be bought so if it meets even 70 per cent of the requirements it is good enough

  11. Jun Tau – “Sometime,money could be a secondary factors””

    Naturally but I didn’t indicate or imply otherwise ….

  12. Regrettable as MH370 is, QRA is IMO backseat to maritime concerns. My 2 sen.

    BTW offtopic, what is the ATM’s role in the country’s response to Corona virus? Discuss.

  13. Im pretty sure rmaf want the best possible lcas but at the same time they know all along that the govt will have the final say about funding.So i believe they will take anything that MOF approve..About timeline of LCAs deployment, say the contract is sign on 2021 the soonest lcas will enter the service will be somewhere between 2023-2024..Easily 3 years from now..So that addition to hornet fleet is somewhat becoming more crucial now..At the same time that Mig29 should be swap with something..better than gathering dusk in the hangar.

  14. Chua – “, QRA is IMO backseat to maritime concerns”

    I would think that these are 2 different things. It’s great to have ships, MPAs and UASs to monitor our maritime domain but a 24 hour QRA is also very essential. We can’t safely predict which one would be needed most in times of tension or crisis; both might be needed simultaneously.

    The problem with QRAs is that they’re resource intensive. Not only do a pair of jets have to be on standby but in case of technical issues; replacement aircraft have to be ready too. In out case; the small numbers of available fighters makes things much harder. On top of training commitments and the fact that at any one time “x” number might be undergoing maintenance or participating in exercises; the RMAF has to ensure a pair are always available for QRA commitments.

    Firdaus – “Im pretty sure rmaf want the best possible lcas but at the same time”

    “Not the “best” per see but what’s the most ideal in meeting its operational requirements. All the contenders will have their respective merits. Another factor is that all the contenders will be examined with regards to support issues; i.e. how much a LCA is projected to cost, to operate and maintain throughout its service period of say 20-25 years. The figures will vary for each contender.

    Firdaus – “So i believe they will take anything that MOF approve”

    Obviously ……..

    The danger however is that the RMAF might end up getting something I’ll suited for its requirements; not only from a technical aspect but from a commonality and support aspect too. If that happens it will be a regressive move; merely repeating mistakes of the past. The whole point of the CAP 55 is to streamline the aircraft inventory to make it more manageable and cost effective to operate and maintain.

    Buying something not ideal or suited merely because the OEM is willing to accept palm oil is a short term solution which will come back to bite us in the long term.

  15. …..

    If the Russians provide the Indians with their high end tungsten core ones or the ones they reportedly have with DU; will the Indians be allowed to export it?
    Secondly, in terms of prices how will be Indian made rounds compare to ones from Russia?

    The Chinese reportedly produce decent 125mm rounds.

  16. @ azlan

    ” The problem with QRAs is that they’re resource intensive ”

    Yes. Exactly why we need the LCA to actually be able to shoulder the peacetime QRA missions, because as a resource they will be the biggest pool of fighters we are going to have. Why IMO it is important to actually buy a LCA that can do what the MiG-29N did for QRA, while being more cost effective at the same time.

  17. I’ll take m346 if leonardo willing to package it with atr72 mpa as we badly need mpas like really long time now..better yet, sign the contract for m346 with atr72 at the same time to show that we are serious..and good pr move for leonardo too

  18. @ firdaus

    If you want the ATR72 MPA, just take only that.

    For ATR72-based MPA, rather than going direct with leonardo, i am inclined to go the Pakistan Navy way, going with a 3rd party integrator. For the same price of a basic MPA only version from leonardo, they are able to give ASW capability with the ATR72.

    M346 would not give us the “operasi pemintasan” capability for LCA written down on the DWP.

  19. “No but one can infer it”
    Hard to guesstimate from the varied contenders capabilities. Ie some are capabled for supersonic and others not. As far as we know, both FLIT & LCA are to be from the same plane with different fitout. So by accepting non-supersonic contenders entry, would it mean LCA requirements doesn’t consider the need for supersonic capability a necessity? Just curious as many seem to be shooting in the dark.

  20. @ joe

    By your logic the FLIT could also be not important as planes like Gripen and JF-17 is also accepted as a contender.

  21. About the LIFT/LCA contenders:

    We just look at what’s available on the market that provides:

    -LIFT capability
    -LCA capability (preferably can go supersonic)
    -From a trusted source (preferably western, since many RMAF top shots prefer US/NATO standards as opposed to Russian)
    -Fit into our current logistics and training foot print (of course, it’s western standard)
    -Built with components(also from friendly nations) that are proven to be reliable
    -Low TCO

    I guess there’s only ONE candidate that fits the above and it’s from South Korea.

  22. …. – “Why IMO it is important to actually buy a LCA that can do what the MiG-29N did for QRA, while being more cost effective at the same time.””

    Hence the trade off that’s going to be made when evaluating the various contenders. The RMAF has to decide the balance it desires or is willing to accept given that a particular design might perfectly suit its LIFT needs but might not be so ideal as as armed platform; or vice versa.

  23. I guess u’re right hornet lover..KAI got ta-50 for FLIT and fa-50 for LCA..Makes sense.We cant afford to not buy them just because other surrounding coutries already use them..We can go straight for block 10/20 for LCA variant..

  24. Various companies have responded to the RFI because the RFI just specifies a requirement for a “LCA” with a dual LIFT/combat capability. The RFI didn’t specify a weight category or whether it had to be supersonic or otherwise. Over time the list will narrow and we’ll have a better idea as to the likely candidates when a RFP is issued – of course it’s given that by this stage the RMAF already has a good idea as to what it wants.

    For me biggest danger is a lack of continuity or any firm commitment on the part of the government. We might end up with an initial 12 only to have to wait for another 2 Malaysia Plans for the follow on 12: by which time the initial 12 could be a decade and a half old. A new PM or other factors might decide to shift priorities.

  25. @ hornet lover

    ” I guess there’s only ONE candidate that fits the above and it’s from South Korea ”

    Ditto. That is IMO the only logical way to go.

  26. @…
    Logically as long the plane has tandem seating with dual piloting option, any of them which fits these criteria can be FLIT. As compared to what is the necessity for LCA ie if supersonic is needed or not. So the requirements should be more biased towards attaining the plane suitable for LCA which could be suited for FLIT.

    Your point 2, 3, 4 is speculative as your definition could work just as well for Russian equipment, ie if you have fully Russian fleet like Vietnam they would find more commonality with continuing usage of Russian planes hence their purchase above. We have a mixed fleet of Russian & Western planes, so imho where we buy our FLIT & LCA(Western or Russian) should also consider where we will likely buy our MRCA, as the boys trained on FLIT will move on to using the MRCA. If the future plan & budget is to get SU-57, then I would prefer YAK-130 as our FLIT & LCA.

  27. Thats lie the problem..cuz i’ve being told by someone here that,rmaf if given the option/chance to choose they will ditch any russian made jet or even helicopters..and Su-57 still not enter mass production stage yet..As for me a mere nobody will be happy with anything right now..better to have something than nothing..

  28. @ joe

    There is a lot more to the Lead-In Fighter Training than just having 2 seats. If all it need is just 2 seats, a Cessna 150 also has 2 seats.

    The keyword now is
    – downloadable/offloadable training into the aircraft system.
    – comprehensive ground based training systems

  29. Firdaus – “..better to have something than nothing”

    That is short term thinking ….. A reason why the MAF is in the mess it’s in now; buying without factoring in all the long term implications.

    Buying something not suited to our needs; whether from a technical or support perspective will lead to long term problems and more cash will have to be spent later. Buying a jet is no easy matter. Lots of long term implications; that jet will not operate in a vacuum and has to be able to operate with other assets we have and it must be supportable for the duration of its service life without costing an arm and leg.

  30. @Firdaus
    Given the choice sure they want everything Western top of the line stuff. The conundrum now is can our Armed Forces wait for the things they wanted? Can PUTD refuse MD530s and not have an attack option until they get the Apaches they wanted? Can TDM refused used M109s and not having sufficient arty until they get new Caesars they wanted? Can TLDM refuse more LMS and not having enough ships to patrol our waters until they got the LMS type they wanted? Can TUDM refuse Kuwaiti Hornets & Russki planes and not having a credible fighter fleet until they get the F-35s they wanted?

    Ask yourself if you can have a choice of Toyota or Honda cars will you consider a Proton or Perodua? Not likely right, but what if you can only afford for a Proton or Perodua right now and you need the car right now? Continue waiting until you have the money to get either Japanese cars, but what about the needs of right now? You could consider getting used Toyotas or Hondas as a compromise yes? This is something our Armed Forces isn’t thinking or considering.

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