Iran has unveiled what it purports to be a new domestically developed and manufactured helicopter, national media announced on 7 March.
The Saba-248, which was reportedly designed and built by Iran's Helicopter Renovation and Logistics Company (PANHA) in partnership with the Defence Ministry's Aviation Industries Organization, was revealed during a ceremony that was attended by top military officials.
Images and footage of the event show the Saba-248 to be a skid-equipped twin-engined, four-bladed utility helicopter that is similar in appearance to Western platforms such as the AgustaWestland AW119 and Bell 427.
Although no performance specifications for the Saba-248 have yet been released, the AW119 and Bell 427 have cruise speeds of 267 km/h and 273 km/h respectively; ranges of 1,013 km and 722 km; maximum take-off weights of 2,720 kg and 3,175 kg; and can carry eight and seven passengers. Judging from appearances, the Saba-248 will be in roughly the same class of performance.
Billed as both a civil and military platform, the Saba-248 is likely to be used by the Iranian armed forces for troop and cargo transportation, battlefield liaison, casualty evacuation, search and rescue, and observation and reconnaissance. The national media reports did not say if it could be armed, and neither did they say how many helicopters might be delivered or when.
As well as being used by Iran, the Saba-248 is to be offered to the international export market with a particular focus on other Muslim nations, national media reported the Iranian defence chief, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, as saying.
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