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.
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.
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SOKO - Yugoslavia / UTVA - Serbia / Bosnia and Herzegovina Manufacturer(s)
Bosnia and Herzegovina; Serbia; Yugoslavia Operators
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