Common practice for growing military powers like China and Iran is to reproduce / reengineer existing foreign equipment to satisfy local requirements and, at the same time, educate local industry on the finer points of military-related technologies. For Iran, this has led to various products influence by American designs and reconstituted for the Iranian military as is the case with the new Saba-248 ("Good Wind") helicopter by PANHA. The twin-engined platform was unveiled in March of 2017 and showcased at MAKS 2017 in July.
The Saba-248 bears more than a passing resemblance to the Bell Helicopter Model 427, what essentially became a failed helicopter product for the American company (it only found two global users in the Czech Republic and Argentina). However, in the Iranian interpretation of this aircraft, the form and function of the Model 427 are all there. The helicopter showcases sleek contouring from nose-to-tail and the engine installations are well-embedded along the fuselage roof. The cockpit - featuring side-by-side seating and LCD displays - is aft of a short nosecone assembly. Entry/exit for the operating crew is by way of hinged automobile-style doors and larger rectangular doors allow access to the passenger cabin aft of the cockpit. All doors have large transparent screens and windows make up a large portion of the cockpit walls allowing for excellent vision and situational awareness. The tail section sports an elevated stem housing the drive shaft powering the tail rotor element. Vertical and horizontal planes are seated along the tail unit. The main rotor component consists of four total blades and the tail rotor - offset to portside - has two blades. The undercarriage is of a simple four-point skid arrangement.
Internally, the Saba-248 is made up largely of Western systems and subsystems. The engines are 2 x French-originated Turbomeca "Arrius" series turboshaft engines of 640 horsepower each. The gearbox is of Austrian origin. Altogether, the helicopter has an estimated top speed of 172.5 miles per hour putting it in line with Western helicopters of similar design and functionality.
A first-flight of a Saba-248 prototype was recorded in 2016. The Iranian military hopes to introduce the product into service sometime in 2019 following testing and certification prior to serial production efforts.
The Iranians plan to utility the Saba-248 series in several frontline roles including Search and Rescue (SAR). Its lightweight nature also opens it up for use as a reconnaissance platform and light-attack gunship.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
37.4 ft (11.40 m)
36.9 ft (11.25 m)
10.5 ft (3.20 m)
3,858 lb (1,750 kg)
6,393 lb (2,900 kg)
+2,535 lb (+1,150 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the PANHA Saba-248 production variant)
2 x Turbomeca Arrius turboshaft engines developing 700 horsepower each and driving a four-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor.
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