The Belarusian Air Force and Air Defense Command is reportedly close to completing the procurement of Yak-130 advanced jet trainers for replacement of its fleet of L-39 Albatros aircraft.

Belarusian Armed Forces Air Force and Air Defence chief major-general Oleg Dvigalev was quoted by Belarusian Telegraph Agency as saying: "A wing of combat and training aircraft Yak-130 will arrive as an independent tactical unit.

"Step-by-step pilots will learn to fly them while technicians will study how to maintain them.

"Later on we will make plans to phase out L-39 aircraft because Yak-130 aircraft are more up-to-date and more reliable."

"A wing of combat and training aircraft, Yak-130 will arrive as an independent tactical unit."

A contingent of Belarusian technicians and pilots is scheduled to visit Russia for a month-long training programme, and will subsequently be redeployed to the airfield in Lida, Belarus, along with the aircraft.

In addition, specialists from the Yak-130 manufacturer will arrive in Lida, to provide technical support for the aircraft and analyse their status over the next year.

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Dvigalev said: "Once our specialists know the aircraft inside out, we will plan the acquisition of more wings."

Around 12 L-39ZA aircraft are operated by the Belarusian Air Force’s 1/12 Training Squadron for different stages of pilot training.

The Yak-130 is designed by Yakovlev and built by Irkut. It is a subsonic two-seat advanced jet trainer / light attack aircraft designed to train pilots in flying advanced fourth and fifth-generation fighter aircraft, including the Sukhoi T-50.

The twin engine is capable of operating from unpaved runways and airfields. It can also conduct light-attack and reconnaissance missions at subsonic speeds of 600mph, in all weather conditions.

The aircraft is currently operational with the Russian and Algerian Air Forces, and has also been ordered by Bangladesh, Libya, and Vietnam.