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.
The MiG-AT trainer has a wing span of 10.16 meters, and its maximum take-off weight is 8,150 kg. The aircraft's range is up to 3,000 km., and the maneuvering air speed is 850 km/h. In addition to the primary trainer version, the MiG-AT family is 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 is 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 has been under development by MiG Corp. since the early 1990s. This aircraft is 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 is being developed and manufactured in the framework of an international project that also involves 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 is 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 is one of the core elements of the new generation trainer aircraft's development effort. The flight control system is 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 is its flight envelope protection, which prevents the trainer from entering potentially dangerous maneuvers -- thus increasing safety for new or inexperienced pilots.
The MiG-AT is 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 is 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.
In early 2002 the Russian air force gave the Yak-130 the victory in the competition to equipment military aviation with new airplanes that can play the role of training and light combat aircraft. Its competitor, the MiG-AT, although it also would be supported by the air force, now can count on only foreign orders.
Since December 2002 Air Force has been 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 is 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 is already exhibited.
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