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Air Platforms

Serbia modernises Orao ground attack aircraft

12 November 2017

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.

Operational Orao aircraft modified to be the testbed for new weapons with VRVZ-200 missiles under the wings, which will be fired for the first time in the coming weeks. (Serbian MoD)Operational Orao aircraft modified to be the testbed for new weapons with VRVZ-200 missiles under the wings, which will be fired for the first time in the coming weeks. (Serbian MoD)

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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