Bangladesh embarks on $1.5B Yak deal

Yak-130 Mitten jet combat trainersBangladesh is planning to buy 24 Russian-made Yak-130 Mitten jet combat trainers from Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

The deal comes after Rosoboronexport showcased the twin-engine subsonic Yak-130 at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition last month, a report by the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti said.

Detailed negotiations for the deal involving $1 billion of credit to Bangladesh will take place this spring, said Rosoboronexport Deputy Chief Viktor Komardin.

“The purchase of Yak-130 warplanes is a very significant subject of negotiations between Russia and Bangladesh,” he said during his visit to the 5-day show, which ended last Saturday.

Russia granted Bangladesh a $1 billion arms purchase credit during the visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed to Moscow in January when she met Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Komardin, who led the Rosoboronexport delegation to Malaysia, said Russian manufacturers want “cooperation in all areas, including the transfer of technology, assembly under license, (development of) hardware maintenance centers and joint research and development programs.”

Around 20 Russian companies took part in the Malaysian exhibition, which has been going since 1991. Russian firms included the state-owned United Industrial Corp. — Oboronprom — which produces helicopters, aircraft engines and air defense systems.

The aircraft, manufactured by Yakovlev, first flew in April 1996 and entered service with the Russian air force in 2009.

Algeria also operates the Yak-130 but the exact numbers aren’t known.

A report by RIA Novosti in June 2010 quoted the deputy head of Russia’s Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Vyacheslav Dzirkalin, saying Yaks along with Su-30 Flanker fighters were to have been delivered to Algeria in 2011 under a $1 billion deal.

“The delivery of Su-30s and Yak-130s (to Algeria) is due to begin next year, this is no military secret,” Dzirkalin said, but gave no indication of numbers.

Syria, too, is in line for the Yak-130 but the delivery is on hold, a July 2012 report by The New York Times said.

Dzirkaln was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying no new Russian weapons would be sent to Syria until the conflict ends.

The Times report also said Vyachislav Davidenko, a spokesman for Rosoboronexport, clarified in a telephone interview that Russia intended to service old military contracts with Syria, including the maintenance of Russian helicopters used by the Syrian army.

But the message about a delay in new weapons, notably shipments of the Yak-130, was a substantive change,

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