The Yak-130 was designed to meet the same Russian air force instructional trainer system requirement as the MiG AT. This specified an aircraft with simulators and ground-based training aids, like the US Navy's T-45TS system. The Yak-130 has a less conventional configuration than its MiG competitor, featuring swept wings with winglets. On take-off, the engines are fed with air by auxiliary overwing air intakes and by the main intakes, which feature swing-down intake doors, much like those fitted to MiG-29 and Su-27.
In 1992, Yakovlev teamed with Aermacchi to develop the Yak-130. Like the MiG AT, it features a reprogrammable flight control system that can be used to simulate the handling of a variety of front-line types. The initial Yak/AEM-130 export version included avionics and systems sourced from BAE Systems and Honeywell.
The first of three Yak-130D demonstrators made its maiden flight in 1996; these have reportedly been followed by a further pre-series batch of seven for evaluation. The intended production configuration of the Yak-130 differs in important aspects, notably a shorter and shallower fuselage with a more downswept nose, and a dogtooth on the tailplane leading edge to enhance effectiveness at high angles of attack.
By 2000 partnership between these companies ended with each developing the aircraft independently. The Aermacchi went on it's own and developed the M-346 Master advanced trainer.
The first Yak-130 trainer entered service with the Russian Air Force in 2009. A contract was signed for a delivery of 12 trainers. Currently the Russian requirement for its new trainer remained vague. Strong interest in the Yak-130 was expressed by Algeria and Slovakia. Algeria ordered some of these aircraft. Deliveries commenced in 2012.
The Yak-130 can be also used as a light attack aircraft. It has 9 hardpoints for a variety of guns, bombs, missiles and rockets.
Yakovlev plans to develop a family of Yak-130 variants. These include a single-seat combat version with seven hardpoints; a hooked carrier-capable aircraft; and a two-seat side-by-side trainer optimized for training bomber and transport pilots.