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Iran-140 (Antonov 140)

Iran Air, the national airline of Iran, had under way a massive fleet renewal and expansion plan and had been expected to expend an estimated $7 Billion on aircraft purchases. In light of such demand, local manufacturers, by capitalizing upon technological incentives offered by international manufacturers to win sales, had been able to formulate production outsourcing and joint partnering ventures. The outcome of these steps led to the launch of a joint venture for the manufacture of the Antonov 140, a 60-70 seat passenger aircraft.

HESA, the center of excellence in Aeronautics in Iran is responsible for manufacture, co-production, export and managing the marketing, sales and support of Iran-140 Aircraft (a license produced version of the Antonov An-140). According to the manufacturer, advanced technology, superior design features, excellent reliability and performance combined to make Iran-140 one of the most successful regional prop-jet in the world at the time. The Iran-140 is a pressurized, twin turbo prop, high wing aircraft, which combines a rapid transit speed (310Kts, 575 Km/h) with outstanding performance in "Hot and High" climates. Its added ability to operate from unprepared airfields makes it an ideal aircraft for any regional network.

The Iran-140 fuselage provides for an excellent passenger/cargo loading capability, which along with high wing, permits ample clearance for ground servicing vehicles. Other features: Exceptional pilot visibility from the cockpit, very good low speed handling, aregged fuselage structure with an economic life of 20,000 landings, carefully placed passenger and service doors, plus a range of gross weights to meet operator requirements.

A six bladed swept back advance technology propellers is composed of a metallic spar embedded in a composite sheath. Iran-140 power plant, with millions of flying hours it is a reliable engines that integrates propeller and engine controls into a propulsion system that is ideally suited to the Iran-140 Aircraft.

Iranian sources have indicated that maritime reconnaissance/anti-submarine warfare (ASW) versions of the IAMI Iran 140 transporter (a licence-built version of Ukraine's An-140 design) will eventually replace the ageing P-3F Orion procured from the United States prior to 1979. An airborne early warning (AEW) version of the Iran 140 is also supposed to be developed, but Tehran will need to find a partner to develop the airborne radar platform's complex avionics.

Maritime patrol, including roles such as electronic warfare, anti-ship missile firing and long range missile guidance relay, emphasizes a need for at least 7 hours endurance. The An-140 does not have such a capability yet, but some modifications were being planned to enlarge aircraft's fuel tanks, and by adding additional tanks to the outboard wing section. The Iranian Navy had expressed its willingness to operate the An-140 in offensive and patrol roles, equipping it with a 360-deg surface search radar. Other equipment options would include an infrared/ultra-violet line scanner (IR/UVLS), forward looking airborne radar (FLAR), side looking airborne radar (SLAR), laser fluorescent sensor (LFS), microwave radiometer (MWR), forward looking Infra-red (FLIR), magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), electronic support measures/radar warning receiver (ESMRWR), antisurface weapons and a video camera with data annotation.

The Antonov An-140 military AEW version would be equipped with a rotodome and a yet to be determined surveillance radar. Iran had an urgent requirement for at least a dozen of such aircraft due to its diverse topography.

Iran and Ukraine signed a treaty for the production of Iran-140 planes in Isfahan in 1995. The first Hesa-produced Iran-140 was completed in 2001, but the company had yet to find a domestic customer for the aircraft, which was being seen with scepticism by Iranian civilian operators.

On 22 December 2002 an Antonov An-140 departed Kharkov at 11:23 for a flight to Isfahan, Iran via Trabzon. The passengers, aerospace scientists and executives, were to visit the test flight of the Iran-140, an Antonov An-140 built under license in Iran. At 13:45 the flight landed at Trabzon, Turkey for refueling. About one hour later, at 14:51, the plane took off heading for Isfahan. While descending towards Isfahan in an area of poor visibility, the aircraft collided with a mountain. Iran's civil aviation authority announced that a pilot's failure to correctly use a cockpit global positioning system (GPS) caused the crash.

As of late 2003 a delegation from Iran was to see an assembly line set up in Isfahan to build up to 100 aircraft. Three aircraft had already been assembled under the local name IrAn-140. In Russia, the An-140 assembly line was set up at Aviacor, with the first aircraft due to roll out in 2003.

Iran and Ukraine agreed late in 2004 to step up the production of Antonov-140 passenger planes, which is manufactured under the name of IrAn-140. Iran had produced three Iran-140 airplanes and this figure was to increase to 80 planes by 2020. According to Ukrainian experts, the production line of a new Iran-140 model for domestic flights and mountainous areas will be launched in Isfahan. They believe Iran-140 is equipped with state-of-the-art technology with warning systems. Iran can sell these airplanes to South Asian countries in the near future.

Another crash, due to engine flameout, was reported in August 2005. The aircraft diverted to Arak airport where it made an emergency landing, running off the runway and sustaining serious damage.

The production of a line of turboprop engines for Iran's aircraft industry was officially launched 02 November 2005. Defence minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, quoted by state television, said that the production of engines is a basic development for the air industry. Aircraft production in Iran is controlled by the defence ministry. The country will produce about 1,200 turboprop engines over the next few years and these are to be mounted on about eight models of the Iran-140 aircraft as well as on some helicopters. The Iran-140 is a twin-propeller aircraft that seats 52 and as of 2005 there were three operational aircraft of the type.

In June 2006 HESA responded to rumors that Iran-140 production had stopped by announcing its planned deliveries to of 4 aircraft to domestic clients. 2 aircaft were delivered to Mahan Airlines. Payment problems, however, prevented the delivery of the two other aircraft, one each, to Safiran Airlines and Iran's Bank of Industry and Mine. Potential foreign contracts to Venezuela and Sudan were also announced.

In June 2006 Deputy Commander of Syria's Armed Forces and Defense Minister Lieutenant General Hassan Ali Turkmani lauded the achievements of Iran's Aircraft Manufacturing Industry. Speaking to domestic and foreign reporters after inspecting Isfahan Aircraft Manufacturing Complex and the production line of 'Iran 140'.

On 29 October 2008 the head of HESA, Mohammad Ali-Zade, said Iran will need an additional 20 An-140 turboprop aircraft to ensure effective patrols of its national borders. The Iranian HESA company has so far produced five An-140 passenger planes at a facility in Esfahan under license (as IRAN-140) and eight other aircraft are being assembled by Iranian specialists trained in Russia and Ukraine. "The presidential administration has demanded that we produce 20 additional An-140 planes for the border guard service. Overall we will need up to 100 An-140 aircraft in various modifications over the next 8-9 years," the head of HESA, Mohammad Ali-Zade, said at the 4th Iran Air Show 2008 on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf.

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