In Russia, demand for replacement of a trainer airplane became more acute owing to the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. As the L-29 and L-39 airplanes and their spare parts were manufactured mainly in Czechoslovakia, they soon became difficult to obtain for the Russia's Air Force. In mid-1989, the task of creating a promising training aircraft arose before the leading design bureaus of the USSR. In early 1991, a competition was held for the most suitable design for such an apparatus. Project from OKB A.I. Mikoyan received the factory name "821". For the competition in December 1991 he was presented in a configuration with a control system without boosters, and this did not contribute to the implementation of a number of automatic modes, including the automatic landing, taking the device away from a dangerous height. Therefore, it was decided to switch to an irreversible booster control system, due to which the issue of reprogramming characteristics was resolved to some extent. Among the ground-based subjects of study, they decided to confine themselves to simple simulators. In March 1996, the flight of the first MiG-AT prototype under the control of R.P. Taskaeva. This instance was equipped with French avionics and engines. Compared with the advance project, the mass of the apparatus increased by 260 kg, the wing area decreased. The stabilizer was moved to the lower part of the keel, while removing the ventral crest in the tail. The second prototype was equipped with Russian avionics and took to the air in the fall of 1997. Until that time, about 300 flights were completed on the first plane.
The MiG-AT trainer has a wing span of 10.16 meters, and its maximum take-off weight was 8,150 kg. The aircraft's range was up to 3,000 km., and the maneuvering air speed was 850 km/h. In addition to the primary trainer version, the MiG-AT family was designed for potential evolution into a combat trainer, a light single-seat tactical fighter, a naval combat trainer and a combat air patrol aircraft.
The developers of the MiG-AT airplane sought to fundamentally reduce the cost and time of training pilots, substantially improve flight safety and make airplane operation simple and easy. The MiG-AT can be used both for the first flight of a pilot cadet and the final training stages. When the aerodynamic configuration was considered by the experimental design bureau, an unswept wing version was chosen for its considerable advantages in total weight, effectiveness and flight safety. The MiG-AT design uses the classic configuration with a low unswept wing having a substantial dog tooth extension. The wing was provided with drooping ailerons and multiposition flaps and slats ensuring high lift qualities. An ordinary kinematics main landing gear retracts into a well provided in the wing.
The MiG-AT advanced trainer had been under development by MiG Corp. since the early 1990s. This aircraft was designed to provide basic, general and advanced levels of pilot training, allowing in-service flight crews to maintain their skills while also giving hands-on experience for day and night combat operations and in all-weather conditions.
The MiG-AT was developed and manufactured in the framework of an international project that also involved French engine manufacturer Snecma, as well as France's Thales Avionics. Creating a truly international industry team with world-class partner companies increases the advanced trainer's prospects for export sales. Also involved in the MiG-AT program are leading Russian aviation companies and research centers, including GosNIIAS (responsible for integration of the avionics and development of software), the TsAGI Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute, (aerodynamic configuration development), MNPK Avionika (flight control system), Zvezda (K-93 ejection seat), and the Gromov Flight Test Institute (flight tests).
The MiG-AT trainer incorporates a number of new features. In particular, it marks the first time a Russian aircraft was equipped with a domestically built digital fly-by-wire flight control system. Until now, all Russian fly-by-wire flight control systems have used analog computers, significantly limiting their capacity and performance. The application of a digital fly-by-wire flight control system on the MiG-AT provides a very advanced platform for a weapons system of this category. The MiG-AT's flight control system was developed by Moscow-based MNPK Avionika, and was one of the core elements of the new generation trainer aircraft's development effort. The flight control system was reprogrammable and can recreate handling qualities of a variety of aircraft types -- from highly agile fighters to heavy transports. As a result, a single aircraft can be efficiently used for different categories of pilots, reducing training costs for both military and civil services. Another feature of the MiG-AT's flight control system was its flight envelope protection, which prevents the trainer from entering potentially dangerous maneuvers -- thus increasing safety for new or inexperienced pilots.
The MiG-AT was the first aircraft equipped with the unique lightweight Zvezda K-93 ejection seat - an upgraded version of the internationally-known K-36 series of ejections seats. The K-93 seat was qualified for zero-zero and inverted flight ejections -- with the inverted ejection capability effective from heights above 50 meters. Zvezda developed a minimal deployment time sequence for the seat, which includes ejection through the canopy.
A pair of modular LARZAC 04R20 turbofans power the MiG-AT. The engines deliver a thrust of 1,430 daN, and have been designed and manufactured by France's Snecma. MiG-AT customers have the option of selecting either the TopFlight avionics system from France's Thales Avionics or Russian-build equipment for use on the trainer. The aircraft's cockpit ergonomics meet the standards of next-generation fighter aircraft. Display systems in the cockpit use full color LCD (liquid crystal display) instruments. Flight controls were designed with the HOTAS concept (hands on throttle and stick) operating concept, ensuring increased capability and less workload for the pilot.
The year 2002 was a turning point (hopefully not fatal) for the MiG-AT. In the competition with MiG, the winner of the tender for the best training aircraft for the Russian Air Force was the Yak-130. True, in violation of the procedures, but few paid attention to this - the customer is a military one. The decision is extremely unexpected, because it was announced that MiG-AT would be included in the government’s arms development program for next year. The MiG-AT, although it also would be supported by the air force, now can count on only foreign orders.
According to estimates, the needs of the Russian Air Force are 200-250 MiG-AT type aircraft, about 200 MiG AT can be acquired by the CIS countries. The aircraft has a high export potential (the demand of the international market was estimated at 1000-1500 units).
Since December 2002 Air Force had successfully testing certification tests of this trainer aircraft together with MiG Russian Aircraft Corporation on approved program. By October 2003 this program entered into final stage," - said Commander-in-chief of Russian Air Force. According to his words now "is tested aerodynamics, stability, flight control system, flight-technical and take off/landing characteristics of the trainer aircraft." Also was executed general program of testing on-board equipment for both Russian and export version of aircraft, said V.Mikhailov. "Already now we can say that after certification tests MiG-AT will be evaluated as trainer aircraft for Russian Air Force training schools," - said he.
By late 2003 neither the Russian nor the French militaries had the intention to buy the MiG-AT instructional airplane. So, the sample may safely go to the aviation museum where one of the MiG-29 shipborne planes was already exhibited.
It is possible to revive the production of the MiG-AT training aircraft, created more than 20 years ago, but it will take several years. This opinion was expressed 30 June 2018 in an interview with TASS by the Deputy Director General of OKB im. A.S. Yakovleva for flight tests, Hero of Russia Roman Taskaev, who first took this aircraft into the air in 1996. On Friday, Sergey Korotkov, general designer and vice president of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), said that the MiG-AT training aircraft, created in the early 1990s, could be launched again for the Russian Ministry of Defense, and the head of the defense and security committee Viktor Bondarev said that these deliveries could begin in 2023.
“At the current stage, you can build any aircraft. If the Mikoyanites can make it cheap enough, then it can go into series. But it will still be new, and the process of creating it, and then testing it cannot be quick, it will take several years. That The MiG-AT I flew on is an aircraft with a CDS (remote control system for an aircraft that provides control signals from the handle and pedals in the cockpit to the rudder drives and wing mechanization in the form of electrical signals. Modern aircraft are equipped with We have an integrated control system, which includes the CDS and autopilot. This system is currently installed on the Yak-130), which cannot be cheap, "Taskaev said.
In addition, French-made Larzac engines with a thrust of 1.4 thousand kg were installed on the MiG-AT 20 years ago, Taskaev recalled. “They were excellent engines, with a good operational resource. There were no problems with them. But now, when the purchase of such power plants is impossible, there are no new engines for the MiG-AT,” the test pilot said.
According to him, domestic engines for the MiG-AT were still being developed, but the aircraft managed to make literally several flights with them until the end of the test program. We are talking about the RD-1700 turbojet twin-engine engine manufactured at the V.V. Chernyshev Moscow Engineering Plant and the AL-55 turbojet created at the Rybinsk Saturn for the Indian training aircraft HJT-36 developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Corporation.
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