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Romania - Aviation Industry

In the 1960s and 1970s, Romania reestablished its pre-World War II position as one of the few countries with a national aviation industry. The Soviet Union cooperated to an extent but also tried to confine Romania to producing relatively unsophisticated aircraft at a lower level of aviation technology. Romania therefore established extensive ties with several non-Warsaw Pact countries and undertook licensed production of foreign aircraft and coproduction of the IAR-93, the first non-Soviet combat aircraft ever built and flown in the air force of a Warsaw Pact member state.

Between 1968-1991, over 3200 aircraft were produced, among which:

  • ROMBAC 1 - 11 medium carrier (BAC GB license)
  • BN2B Islander light plane (in cooperation with Pilatus Britten Norman - GB)
  • Fight aircraft IAR 93 and 99 (Romanian design)
  • Helicopters IAR 330 (Aerospatiale France license)
Romania was able to acquire both Western and Soviet technology to manufacture modern aircraft. The most successful projects involving such technology transfer included the Soviet-designed Yak-52 piston-engine two-seater (the primary trainer used in the Soviet Union) and Ka-126 agricultural-use helicopter; the Rombac 1- 11 airliner, built under license from British Aerospace using a fuselage designed by British Airways and a Rolls-Royce engine; Viper engines built under license from Rolls-Royce; and the Frenchdesigned IAR-316 Allouette III and IAR-330 Puma helicopters. A noteworthy example of homegrown aircraft design was the IAR-93 Orao combat aircraft and a later model, the IAR-99, which were developed jointly with Yugoslavia.

Romania had a strong national aviation industry during the interwar years. It produced more than eighty models of aircraft and employed 20,000 engineers, technicians, and other workers. But most of its aircraft production capability was destroyed in bombing raids during World War II, and the post-war recovery of the industry proceeded slowly. The Soviet Union forced Romania to convert its remaining capacity to tractor production but eventually allowed it to resume production of motorized gliders and agricultural, utility, scout, and medical evacuation aircraft. Advancing the aviation industry to a higher technological level became a priority when Ceausescu came to power in 1965.

Romania began producing light military training aircraft in the early 1970s. The first, the IAR-28MA, was developed on the basis of the IS-28M2 motorized glider. In 1974 the first of seventy-five IAR-823 two-seat turboprop primary training aircraft was built for the air force. In 1978 the Soviet Union granted a license to produce 200 two-seat Yak-52 piston engine trainers annually for the Soviet Air Force. Four years later, Romania began producing the IAR-825TP TRIUMF two-seat turboprop training aircraft for its own air force. In 1986 the Soviet Union awarded Romania production of the single-seat Yak-53 trainer, an upgraded Yak-52. Building Soviet-designed training aircraft, however, did little to increase the technology base of the Romanian aviation industry.

The scope of activity of the Romanian aeronautical industry was considerably broadened. Specialized enterprises now manufacture precision cast and forged intermediate products of special non-ferrous alloys and high-alloy steels specific to aeronautical construction, as well as components of electric, radio, and radio navigation systems, airborne equipment, and hydraulic, fuel, pneumatic, and air conditioning components needed for production aircraft and engines.

Another important accomplishment of the Romanian aeronautical industry was manufacture of the IAR 316 light helicopter and the IAR 330 medium helicopter under license, both for domestic needs and for export. The Turbo IV C turbine engines and mechanical assemblies (high-precision products of particular technical complexity) with which the IAR 330 helicopters were equipped were also made in Romania, at the Turbomecanica Enterprise. In the area of helicopter manufacture, effort continued to increase the degree of integration of the systems manufactured, including that for the purpose of developing rotors with blades of non-conventional structures reinforced with carbon fibers and creation of the conditions necessary for starting up production of Romanian-designed helicopters.

As of 1989, Romania's greatest achievement in the aviation field was the development and production of the IAR-93, a singleseat light fighter aircraft, in collaboration with Yugoslavia. The joint Yugoslav-Romanian (YUROM) program began in 1970, and serial production of the IAR-93 started in 1979. The IAR-93, designed for a close air-support and ground-attack role, was produced in two variants. The thirty IAR-93A aircraft in service with the Romanian Air Force in 1989 had two Rolls-Royce Viper Mk 632 turbojet engines. The 165 IAR-93B aircraft on order had two afterburnerequipped Mk 633 engines. The IAR-93 had a fully-loaded combat radius of 300 to 400 kilometers. It was armed with two twin-barrel 23mm cannons and carried a maximum bomb load of 1,300 kilograms on four wing pylons and one fuselage attachment point. In conjunction with bringing the IAR-93 into service, Romania developed and built the compatible IAR-99 advanced jet trainer at Craiova in the 1980s.

In the mid-1970s, the Romanian state aviation firm, Industria Aeronautica Romana (IAR), began building the first of 200 Alouette III and 100 Puma helicopters on a license from the French firm Aerospatiale, under the designations IAR-316B and IAR-330, respectively. The air force operated the IAR-316B and IAR-330 as armed transports in support of the ground forces. They had pylons for four AT-3/SAGGER antitank guided missiles or sixteen 57mm rockets.



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