Romania and Yugoslavia managed autonomy in the Soviet-dominated socialist period following World War 2. As such, the countries paired in 1971 to produce a light ground attack combat aircraft with interceptor capabilities for their respective air services. The result became the Avioane Craiova IAR-93 Vultur ("Vulture"), an streamlined, high-winged subsonic fighter with modern implements throughout. First flight was recorded on October 31st, 1974 with the line officially introduced during 1979. Manufactured totaled 88 examples and these served with the Romanian Air Force into April of 1998 before it was formally retired from service. Yugoslavia knew the aircraft as the Soko J-22 "Orao" ("Eagle") and was slightly modified to suit local requirements. These were introduced during 1978 and maintain an active status in the Serbian Air Force today (2014) though in limited numbers.
While never seeing combat, the IAR-93's history was noted for its many losses - at least nine - due to various circumstances including mechanical failures and pilot error. At least fifteen went on to live out their days as permanent displays. The project was born as the "Yurom" and saw single-seat and two-seat forms emerge. Both Romania and Yugoslavia undertook construction of their own prototypes for testing.
Engineers elected for a shoulder-wing approach which aided in low-level flight while also offered clear access to underwing hardpoints. The cockpit sat under a largely unobstructed canopy though the view to the rear was blocked by the raised fuselage spine. The nose cone was relatively short and airbrakes featured just aft of the cockpit floor along the ventral side of the fuselage. Internal guns were seated at the lower sides of the forward fuselage for short-range work. Rectangular intakes were affixed to either side of the cockpit walls to aspirate the twin-engine arrangement within. The wing mainplanes were well-swept with dorsal fences added for stability and a pair of hardpoints were featured under each wing. The tail unit was made up of a single vertical tail fin with low-set horizontal planes. The undercarriage was retractable and included a single-wheeled nose leg and a pair of twin-wheeled main legs. Rough-field operations was another key consideration of the type's design.
As a ground attack platform, the aircraft was given an inherent capability to carry, and release, various guided and unguided munitions including missiles, rockets, and unguided drop bombs across its five hardpoints (four underwing, one underfuselage). The aircraft could also take on a low-level interceptor role and, for this, 2 x 23mm GSh-23L twin-barreled cannons were implemented as was support for various existing Soviet-originated Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) including the AA-2 "Atoll" and AA-8 "Aphid" types.
There were three major variants of the Vulture produced led by the initial IAR-93A model. The IAR-93A series was given the Viper Mk 632-41 afterburning turbojet engine with manufacture seeing 15 preproduction and 35 production forms emerging (26 as single-seaters and 9 as dual-control, two-seaters). First deliveries were in 1979 with formal service beginning in 1981. Then followed fifteen of the single-seat IAR-93MB during 1982 which installed non-afterburning Viper turbojets.
In 1985, a revised mark appeared in prototype form with Viper Mk 633-47 afterburning engines. The wings were of an all-new design and various protrusions about the fuselage removed for a more streamlined, aerodynamically-refined design form. Thirty-four total aircraft made up this mark, which was introduced in 1987 as the IAR-93B, and included 27 single-seaters and 7 dual-control twin-seaters.
As completed, the IAR-93B version featured a length of 48.9 feet, a wingspan of 30.5 feet, and a height of 14.9 feet. Its empty weight was 12,675lbs with a Maximum Take-Off Weight reaching 22,030lbs. Power was served through 2 x Turbomecanica/Orao (Rolls-Royce) "Viper" Mk 644-47 turbojet engines supplying 4,000lbs of dry thrust and 5,000lbs of power with afterburner engaged. Maximum speed reached 680 miles per hour with a cruising speed closer to 675 miles per hour. Range was 825 miles with a rate-of-climb being 3,900 feet per minute up to a service ceiling of 44,600 feet.
Production of all marks spanned from 1975 into 1992.
Crew 1 or 2
Production 88 Units
Avioane Craiova - Romania
- Ground Attack
49.21 ft (15 m)
30.51 ft (9.3 m)
14.76 ft (4.5 m)
12,677 lb (5,750 kg)
24,030 lb (10,900 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Avioane IAR 93B Vultur (Vulture) production model)
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