IAI Arava (Willow)
STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) Transport Aircraft
Over 100 of the Israeli Arava were produced from 1972 to 1988 and these fielded across multiple foreign air forces.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
During the middle Cold War (1947-1991) period, Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) produced the IAI "Arava" for the lightweight Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) role coveted by many military services of the world. Design work began in 1965 and a first-flight, in prototype form (this example later lost in flight-testing), was recorded on November 27th, 1969 (a second prototype followed into the air on May 8th, 1971). Serial production then went on to yield 103 total units - the work spanning from 1972 to 1988.
Despite its rather modest production total, the Arava has gone on to see global use under various national flags, from Argentina and Bolivia to Thailand and Venezuela (see Operators section for complete listing of users). The aircraft is in the same class as the Ukrainian Antonov An-28 "Cash", Spanish CASA C-212 "Aviocar", the Canadian de Havilland DHC-6 "Twin Otter" light-class haulers - all detailed elsewhere on this site.
For its STOL capability, the Arava achieved this through a lightweight design coupled to powerful turboprop engines and a braced, high-mounted monoplane wing assembly. Its overall design was relatively conventional with a "podded" centralized fuselage nacelle containing the flightdeck and cargo hold. The mainplanes were fitted at the shoulder and each member held an engine nacelle which protruded from the leading edge. Along the aft line of the members emanated tailbooms leading to the rear of the aircraft. The tailbooms were joined at the rear by a shared horizontal plane between them and further capped by individual vertical fins. The raised nature of the tail unit allowed for unfettered access to the cargo section of the aircraft. For ground-running, a fixed (non-retracting) tricycle undercarriage was installed - its fixed nature reducing both operational cost and complexity.
Dimensions included a running length of 41.5 feet, a wingspan of 68.8 feet, and a height of 17 feet. Empty weight is 8,815lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 15,000lb.
The aircraft are typically crewed by two pilots seated in a traditional side-by-side configuration. The cargo hold carries room for up to twenty-four combat-ready infantry or, in their place, sixteen fully-equipped paratroopers (the latter for airborne assaults). This can further be substituted for general cargo loads and medical litters as required by mission parameters.
Power to the aircraft has been through 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) PT6A-34 series of proven turboprop engines, these particular units yielding 750 horsepower each. The engines are used to drive three-bladed propeller units and this helps to propel the aircraft to speeds of just over 200 miles-per-hour (general cruising being closer to 195-198 mph). Range is out to a useful 655 miles with a service ceiling of 25,000 feet being possible and a rate-of-climb reaching 1,300 feet-per-minute being reported.
Various forms of the base design were eventually realized: the Model 101 was brought online to serve the civilian transportation market and was eventually joined by the one-off Model 101A. The Model 101B, Model 102, and Model 102B were all also intended for civilian airspace use. The Model 201 began the line of militarized forms and the Model 202 introduced winglets as well as an onboard Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) while the Model 202B was equipped for the Electronic Warfare (EW) role. Other military models could be further equipped with weapon stations and hardpoints - supporting machine guns (medium and heavy types), rocket pods, and aerial torpedoes.
The proposed Model 203 was to rely on jet propulsion but was not furthered. Likewise, the Model 301 was to be equipped with a French Turbomeca "Astazou" engine and the Model 401 would have been an enlarged variant with turboprop engines - neither was evolved.