The Serbian state-owned intermediary for defence equipment imports and exports, Yugoimport SDPR, and the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Military Technical Institute are working on the modernisation package they are proposing for twin-seat versions of the Soko Orao twin-jet subsonic ground attack and tactical reconnaissance aircraft.
Earlier this year, the MoD in Belgrade gave the Orao, in service with the Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo i Protivvazduhoplovna Odbrana (Republic of Serbia Air Force and Air Defense, RV i PVO), priority to be modernised over the Soko G-4 Super Galeb single-jet advanced trainer and light attack aircraft.
The upgrade will extend the aircraft's lifetime, keeping it operational until 2039. It will equip selected aircraft with an optical and laser range-finding system that, combined with newly integrated smart weapons, will turn the upgraded Orao into a platform for stand-off precision ground attack missions during the day or night and in all weather conditions.
The aircraft will receive a new fire control and navigation system, new avionics, high-performance computers, and a glass cockpit equipped with three multifunctional displays and hands-on throttle and stick controls. The crew workload will be shared by the pilot and the weapon systems operator in the back seat of the aircraft.
The twin-seat NJ-22 Orao technology demonstrator for the proposed modernisation was shown to the public at Batajnica air base, near Belgrade, on 6 April 2016 and the project was unofficially named Orao 2.0. The technology demonstrator was shown again in October 2016 with what is believed to have been a recently-modified operational NJ-22 Orao armed with a pair of indigenously-developed VRVZ-200 guided air-to-ground missiles on the underwing pylons and an ASVL-500 missile guidance pod on the central underbelly pylon.
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