AIN Online, by Vladimir Karnozov, 31 May 2017
At the MILEX 2017 military expo held in Minsk from May 20 to 22, the Belarus defense ministry confirmed recent arrivals of new equipment from Russia and declared its intent to buy more. Since the previous expo two years ago, four Yak-130 jets and 18 Mil Mi-8 MTV-5 helicopters (export designation Mi-17V5) as well as a number of secondhand S-300PS long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) have arrived.
Belarus has received eight Yakovlev Yak-130s and intends to buy more of these weaponized jet trainers, according to Maj. Gen. Oleg Dvigalev, commander of Belarus air force and air-defense force. He said that the service intends to “complete building up a comprehensive pilot training system based on Russian-made aircraft of the current generation.” It would employ the Yak-152 screener and ab initio trainer, the Yak-130 advanced trainer and full-flight simulators and computer-based training. The best aviators would be assigned to units operating the Sukhoi Su-30SM heavyweight fighters that Belarus is acquiring from Russia’s Irkut. “The Su-30SM is a multifunctional aircraft that can act against both aerial and ground targets,” Dvigalev noted.
Russian officials at MILEX 2017 confirmed the delivery of an initial three Yak-130s to Myanmar, earlier this year. Thus Myanmar became fifth user of the type after Russia, Algeria, Belarus and Bangladesh. Myanmar’s order is estimated between 10 and 16 aircraft. This year, Bangladesh is expected to firm up an option for eight aircraft to supplement 16 already delivered.
The Mi-8 MTV-5 helicopters were ferried in two batches, of twelve and six machines. All went to the 50th air base at Machulishi, where training and manufacturer’s support centers have been established, according to the base commander Andrei Lukyanovich. The newly acquired Mi-8MTV-5 will supplement long-serving Mi-8s. “Despite bearing an outward resemblance to the previous generation, the Mi-8MTV-5 belongs to the next one,” he said.
The newer model comes equipped with a glass cockpit and modern avionics including forward looking infrared and other advanced sensors, which allows for flights at night and in all weather. “This feature shall help improve flight safety and enable us to conduct parachute-assisted air-drop operations as well as those without using parachutes,” Lukyanovich added. The helicopters come equipped with the modern KRET President-S defensive system that fools incoming missiles equipped with heat-seeking and optical guidance systems. The first export sale of that system, to Egypt, took place last year.