The Novi Avion ("New Aircraft") was a Yugoslavian effort to produce a home-grown supersonic multi-role aircraft on par with the global 4th Generation fighters of the time. It shared many similarities with the French-based Dassault Rafale and may have proven itself a capable performer. The Novi Avion was intended to replace the aging fleet of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 "Fishbed" and SOKO J-21 "Jastreb" aircraft. Unfortunately for the project, the aircraft was cancelled in whole in 1991 when Yugoslavia ceased to be a nation, about one year before the Avion was scheduled to make its maiden flight.
The Avion began life in the 1980s as Yugoslavia was looking to become more independent in terms of its military equipment procurement. Strides were made along other fronts for both the army and the navy and the one major component that the nation lacked was in the availability of an indigenous fighter design. Work on such a project took place at Vazduhoplovno Tehnicki Institut (VTI) in Belgrade.
Avionics centered around a digital flight control system, fire-control radar and a navigation-attack system tied to multi-function displays in the "all-glass" cockpit. Externally, the Avion mimicked the Dassault Rafale to an extent. The cockpit was held forward in the fuselage, aft of a sharply-pointed nose cone containing the radar. The large-area delta wings took on high sweep and a bulk of the underwing stores. Canards were set forward just above the intake openings. Intakes to feed the single engine were split along either side of the lower fuselage, the openings placed just aft of the cockpit. The tail was adorned with a single vertical tail fin. The fuselage was capped by a single exhaust nozzle. The cockpit provided the pilot with good all-around visibility. Construction of the airframe was mostly of composites. In all, the Novi Avion was a sleek design worthy of a 4th Generation jet fighter.
From its single French-based SNECMA M88 turbofan, it was projected that the Avion could reach speeds of up to Mach 1.88 and 1,243 miles per hour. Range would have been 2,339 miles with a service ceiling of 55,775 feet at a 16,500 meters per minute rate-of-climb. The selection of the M88 is of particular note for it is the same powerplant used in the Dassault Rafale.
Armament was to have centered around the Avion's 11 hardpoints (including two wingtip positions) and would run the bevy of standard air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs and rocket pods - these most likely of French origin. Standard armament was a single 30mm internal cannon.
Sortie-wise, it was envisioned that the Avion would have tackled a myriad of combat roles in its multi-role category including anti-ship and ground attack. Its primary service would have been in the interception and air superiority roles.
Everything for the Avion - and Yugoslavia - changed in 1991 however. Internal warfare and political upheaval all contributed to the demise of the nation and the project in tow. War ensued and ended up in the division of Yugoslavia into the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia (Kosovo now partially independent) and Slovenia. Needless to say, the legacy of the Novi Avion died with Yugoslavia leaving the possibilities of this home-grown fighter system to the imagination.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Novi Avion production model)
Novi Avion - Developmental Series Designation (not official military designation); fitting French-made SNECMA M88 series turbofan with afterburner; 1 x 30mm cannon; production of prototype halted in 1991 with project cancellation.
(Cockpit image represents the Novi Avion production model)
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