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New Soim Jet Trainer Ready For Flight Testing In Romania
Romanian airframer Avioane Craiova SA is getting ready to begin flight testing of an upgraded version of the IAR-99 Soim jet trainer.
The IAR-99SM (Standard Modernizat) has been developed with a modernized avionics suite to help train pilots to fly Romania’s new fleet of secondhand Lockheed Martin F-16s, as well as perform low-speed air interception missions for national air policing.
Details of a rollout ceremony for the new aircraft held Dec. 22 were revealed by Romanian Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism Stefan Radu Oprea, who said Romanian industry was “demonstrating in a real way the ability to respond to the supply needs of the Romanian army.”
Ten of the Romanian Air Force’s fleet of IAR-99s will be upgraded to the IAR-99SM standard, according to a contract signed in May 2020. But the program is significantly behind schedule. Oprea notes that the upgrade project “has been stalled for almost three years.”
Romania’s Ministry of Economy is the main shareholder in Avioane Craiova SA.
The Rolls-Royce Viper-powered jet trainer was developed by Romanian industry in the 1980s to replace the Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfins and L-39 Albatros aircraft then being used for jet training.
The type entered service in 1987. But unlike the Czech-built platform, the IAR-99 failed to achieve any export success, and only 20 entered Romanian Air Force service.