STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): SOKO - Yugoslavia / UTVA - Serbia / Bosnia and Herzegovina
OPERATORS: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Serbia; Yugoslavia
LENGTH: 42.65 feet (13 meters)
WIDTH: 30.51 feet (9.3 meters)
HEIGHT: 14.76 feet (4.5 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 12,236 pounds (5,550 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 24,471 pounds (11,100 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Orao-Turbomecanica (Rolls-Royce) Viper Mk 633-41 turbojet engines developing 5,000lbs of thrust with afterburner.
SPEED (MAX): 702 miles-per-hour (1,130 kilometers-per-hour; 610 knots)
RANGE: 820 miles (1,320 kilometers; 713 nautical miles)
CEILING: 49,213 feet (15,000 meters; 9.32 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 17,520 feet-per-minute (5,340 meters-per-minute)
Detailing the development and operational history of the SOKO J-22 Orao (Eagle) Light Attack / Fighter-Bomber / Advanced Trainer Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 8/7/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
In 1971, the nations of Romania and Yugoslavia joined together to develop a light strike, low-level interceptor to fulfill local requirements. For the Romanians, this became the Avioane IAR-93 "Vulture" introduced in 1979 and, for the Yugoslavians, the aircraft was known as the SOKO J-22 "Orao" ("Eagle") - introduced in 1978. The aircraft fulfilled the attack and reconnaissance roles for the Yugoslav Air Force until the dissolution of the country in 1992. These aircraft were then absorbed into the emerging air powers of the resulting countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Very few remain in active service today (2014).
The project that begat the J-22/IAR-93 was known as "Yurom" with the design intent to produce both a single-seat and twin-seat version. The former would be used ground attacks and low-level interception while the latter was reserved for the reconnaissance/advanced training role. Each nation handled their own prototype forms which eased development. Yugoslavian versions were in production out of Mostar (Bosnia) up until 1992 to which the plant was abandoned. Equipment was then rearranged in what is today Serbia for continued production.
As completed, the Eagle featured a running length of 13 meters with a wingspan of 9.3 meters and a height of 4.5 meters. Its empty weight was 12,125lbs while its Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reached 24,430lbs. Power was supplied through 2 x Orao/Turbomecanica (Rolls-Royce) "Viper" Mk 633-41 series afterburning turbojet engines. On dry thrust, this system outputted 4,000lbs of power each unit and up to 5,000lbs of thrust with afterburner engaged. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 700 miles per hour, a ferry range out to 820 miles and a service ceiling of 49,200 feet. Its rate-of-climb reached 17,520 feet per minute.
Its external construction followed very closely the lines and arrangement of the Romanian model. The cockpit was set aft of a short nose cone with a raised fuselage spine blocking views to the rear. Intakes were set outside of the cockpit walls. The pilot sat in an ejection seat under a lightly-framed, single-piece canopy offering good forward and side vision. The wing mainplanes were high-mounted and each assembly afforded a pair of hardpoints. The tail included a single vertical tail fin and two very low-set horizontal planes. The twin engine arrangement exhausted through a pair of circular jet pipes under the tail fin. The undercarriage was of a tricycle configuration with double-wheeled main legs and a single-wheeled nose leg.
Standard armament became a pair of 23mm GSh-23L internal cannons for close-in work. Five hardpoints were used to carry various external ordnance options including missiles, conventional drop bombs, and rocket pods. Supported weapons including AGM-65 Maverick guided missiles, Matra Durandal runway denial bombs, and cluster bombs. The aircraft could haul up to 6,200lbs in stores.
Four major variants of the Eagle were ultimately realized. The IJ-22 "Orao 1" (note use of "I") was a designation used to mark the initial fifteen preproduction airframes originating in Yugoslavia and these were deployed without their expected afterburning engines. The J-22A "Orao 1" was the first production-quality model in single-seat form but still retained non-afterburning powerplants. The J-22B "Orao 2" followed and this was the first form to see the afterburner engines installed. It also incorporated improvements in the cockpit and for weapons. Total production of this mark yielded 165 units and were delivered while there was still a unified Yugoslavia. The NJ-22 "Orao" became a two-seat reconnaissance model outfitted with special equipment and some 35 were eventually delivered. This mark utilized both non-afterburning and afterburning turbojets depending on the batch.
Unlike the Romanian IAR-93 - which did not see combat service in its time aloft - the SOKO J-22 was used in anger during the Yugoslav Wars which spanned from March of 1991 to June 1999 - resulting in the breakup of the Yugoslav nation. The wars encompassed the Slovenian War of 1991, the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995), the Bosnian War (1992-1995), and the Kosovo War (1998-1999). The aircraft was used in the low-level strike and reconnaissance roles during the conflicts where results proved mixed - several losses were also incurred to ground-based fire and further attrition was seen through the NATO bombing campaign which destroyer examples on the ground. The series persevered into the post-war years where it was taken on by both Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Serbia. It is believed that none remain in service with the former and only a few remain in active status with the latter.
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Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (702mph).
Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the SOKO J-22M Orao (Eagle)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units