Utva Lasta (Swallow)
Basic Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft
The Serbian-made Utva Lasta can train upcoming airmen in the nuances of basic flight and ground-attack.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The basic/primary aircraft trainer has long since been a part of airman training in the military sphere. Modern forms very much follow the same proven design lines incorporating a low-mounted straight mainplane wing, single rudder fin, nose-mounted engine, tricycle undercarriage, and tandem seating for instructor and student. The Utva "Lasta" ("Swallow") is no different - encompassing all of these qualities while being born from local Serbian industry in its post-war recovery years. The aircraft took to the air for the first time in prototype form on September 1st, 1985 but, due to regional instability, was not introduced until August 5th, 2010 (this with the Iraqi Air Force). Some thirty-seven have been produced to date. The Serbian Air Force is the only other global operator of the type (2019).
The Lasta has been developed as a direct successor to the aging Utva Model 75 fixed-wing flight trainers appearing in the late-1970s. Like other basic trainers appearing in the skies today, the Lasta is a high-performance monoplane capable of basic airman training, basic weapons training, and aerobatics. This inherent ability stems from the robust construction of the aircraft which is designed to take considerable forces all the while delivering the basic training that up-and-coming airmen require. Design work encompassed the "Lasta 1" in 1985 followed by the improved "Lasta 2" of 1989. However, the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s derailed the project to the extent that work was not restarted until 2006 - resulting in the "Lasta 95" incarnation based heavily in the work completed on the Lasta 2 form (of its six prototypes, only five survived the war).
The basic arrangement of this aircraft is conventional. Overall length reaches 26 feet with a wingspan of 31.9 feet and a height of 9.3 feet. Empty weight is 2,000lb against an MTOW of 2,700lb. The nose-mounted Lycoming engine drives a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose, in turn driving the aircraft to speeds of 215 miles-per-hour up to an altitude of 20,000 feet out to a range of 720 miles. Rate-of-climb is 1,670 feet-per-minute. With its underwing hardpoints, the aircraft can carry the usual conventional drop ordnance (220lb bombs) or 57mm 7-shot rocket pods as well as machine gun pods (in both 7.62mm and 12.7mm flavors). This gives the aircraft the versatility needed to accomplish various tasks utilizing a single flexible airframe.
Variants of the line include the "Lasta 95N" which serves as a basic trainer. Its power is from a 6-cylinder engine of 300 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit and two hardpoints allow for light weapons training while the overall design of the aircraft allows for higher-performance maneuverability (for aerobatics). The "Lasta 95V-54" is a military model taken on by the Serbian Air Force. Changes to the type include a switch to the Lycoming AEIO-580-B1A engine of 315 horsepower, revised instrumentation and controls, and a pair of underwing hardpoints for fully-fledged ordnance-carrying. The "Lasta 95P-2" is a customizable version of the Serbian Air Force's Lasta 95V-54 intended for the export market.
At present, the Iraqi Air Force accounts for some twenty Lasta 95N models with an option for sixteen more airframes (2019) - the service actually became the first operator of the aircraft in 2010. The Serbian Air Force, which began use of the aircraft in 2012, counts fourteen having been delivered of the twenty-four total ordered (2019). There are other possible operators on the aircraft's horizon but commitments have not been forthcoming.