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The MiG-AT has surpassed world standards in this aircraft category for another five to eight years.

New-generation trainer aircraft MiG-AT," "Flying vehicle with no analog in the world," "Aircraft of the future," "The first Russian-French brainchild takes to the air," "A great landmark in aviation history." These were some of the front-page headlines of the domestic and foreign press released in March 1996. It is no accident that the new product attracted such reviews: customers worldwide, particularly in Russia, had awaited the completion of the project for quite some time. "Our MiG-AT is truly a multipurpose aircraft," said Vladimir Vasilyevich Kuzmin, Director General of the Moscow Aircraft Production Organization MiG (MAPO-MiG). "It can be used to learn to take the first steps in flying and complete mastering of combat and flying skills. Together with special simulators, computerized classrooms and trainee training level objective monitoring aids, the new aircraft can be used to train pilots to fly various types of fighters, both Russian and foreign-made. As a multifunctional platform, it can also be issued in combat versions to operate as a light tactical fighter or ground attack aircraft to engage land-based targets."
     "No one in the world has such an aircraft," added Rostislav Belyakov, MAPO-MiG General Designer.
     "The MiG-AT has surpassed world standards in this aircraft category for another five to eight years," noted Anatoly Belosvet, Chief Designer of the project.
     "The MiG-AT is more than just an aerobatic aircraft. It uses a certain software version, fully integrating French avionics and Western standards. The MiG-AT’s intelligence kernel has already been finalized. The first software versions have already been optimized on a bench. No problems with either Russian or Western aircraft versions are expected," explained Academician Yevgeny Fedosov.

                         The aircraft will also go in the history of Russian aviation for its two birth dates. On a sunny Saturday, March 16, 1996, the MiG-AT made its first flight, and on March 21, a mere five days later, it accomplished its first demonstration flight at Zhukovsky, near Moscow. The aircraft was piloted by test pilot Roman Taskayev, Hero of Russia.
     Shortly afterwards, on April 11, the cockpit was manned by foreign pilots. This step was a bold move by MAPO-MiG leadership, with no comparable precedent being traced in the history of global aircraft marketing activities. Hardly had the MiG-AT been entered into flight tests when the company decided to involve foreign pilots in the proving effort. The first foreign pilot to fly the aircraft was Colonel Bart Hauptfleishen, South-African air attache in Moscow. "Haven’t seen a better trainer," stated the colonel as he left the cockpit.
     As South Africa has been on the lookout for a training aircraft for its Air Force and has even announced an international tender to that effect, the colonel’s observation appeared extremely relevant.
     Chief test pilot Alain Rabion from France's Snecma was the second foreign pilot to fly the trainer. The French firm is known for its aircraft engines. Snecma Larzac engines power the MiG-AT trainer. Alain has logged over 1,000 flying hours on two prototypes of the new-generation Rafale fighter (still in development), a record for French pilots. While flying the MiG-AT, he performed rolls, loops and sharp turns. He said he enjoyed piloting the aircraft as it appeared to respond smoothly, without jerks to the controls in performing the maneuvers. He rated the aircraft highly.
     The next day, on April 12, the MiG-AT was piloted by Taskayev, accompanied by Colonel Jacque Ikerski, French air attache, who had extensive experience of serving as a flying instructor.
     "Just terrific!", he exclaimed on stepping down from the cockpit, before adding, "Both the trainee and the instructor feel absolutely safe while airborne. The instructor enjoys perfect observation from the rear cockpit. The MiG-AT is surely a principally new aircraft with a great future."
     Equally rapturous remarks were made by Air Commodore Sunil Kumar Malik, A.V.S.M., Indian air attache.
     In less than a month the MiG-AT started to fly on a full program. By April 12, 1996, 23 flights had been performed; an airspeed of 920 km/h and altitude of 13,000 m were achieved. Under the first-stage test program, the aircraft was tested at g-loads of 5g (out of 8g promised) at attack angles of up to 26 degrees, with flutter limitations and takeoff/landing characteristics meeting the specifications.
     The developers applied a revolutionary design solution that originally had quite a few detractors. The idea was to integrate a straight wing and light-weight engines. Consequently, the developers created a unique light-weight aircraft boasting high maneuverability at subsonic airspeeds.
     The French side contributed greatly to the project. As a matter of fact, it was the first Russian-French program in this field. Successful accomplishment of the undertaking would obviously influence the future of the bilateral relationship.
     "The creation of the MiG-AT marks a valuable contribution of Russia and France to the construction of the all-European house. In terms of relevance, this aircraft is more significant than numerous protocols initialled by politicians that only remain on paper," said Alexander Kotelkin, Chairman of the Russian State Company Rosvoorouzhenie. France contributed aircraft engines from the Snecma and Turbomeca firms, as well as avionics from the Sextant Avionique and Thomson firms, to the creation of the MiG-AT.
     Joint market research revealed global market demand for 1,200 such aircraft (excluding Russia and the CIS).
     Most trials are expected to be completed before the end of 1996. Some of the trials may well continue into early 1997. Consequently the aircraft is scheduled to complete state trials late this year or early 1997 and then be certified for its operation in Air Force units that would ensure an airworthiness certificate from military experts.
     Confidence in the MiG-AT was corroborated by words of test pilot Taskayev after his first flights on the new aircraft: "The MiG-AT boasts outstanding flight performance. It delivers as promised. I was particularly amazed by the lack of malfunctions. It amounts to an aircraft likely to be deployed in the near future. On the MiG-AT trainer you want the flight to never end."

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