|FIGHTER-BOMBER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / International / Soko/CNIAR|
The joint international programme known as Jurom was initiated in 1970 to meet the joint requirement of the air forces of neutral Yugoslavia and then-Warsaw Pact member Romania for a single-seat close support/ground-attack aircraft. This partnership was hardly surprising, since then Romanian President Nikolai Ceasescu was a committed isolationist who strove to weaken Soviet influence by forging links with nations outside the Warsaw Pact, and to build up Romania's aircraft industry through international cooperation. This had led to the licence-manufacture of the BAC One-Eleven and Aerospatiale Alouette and Puma helicopters.
In the interests of national pride it was important that the project seemed to be completely collaborative, with neither nation appearing to have project leadership. Thus the aircraft was jointly designed by engineers from Yugoslavia's Vazduhoplovno Technicki Institut and Romania's Institutal de Macanica Fluidelor si Constructii Aerospatiale, while manufacture was entrusted to SOKO and Centrul Nationalal Industrie Aeronautice Romane (CNIAR). Each company constructed prototypes which were flown simultaneously in the two countries on 31 October 1974. These were powered by non-afterburning Viper Mk 622-41R turbojets and were followed by a pair of two-seat trainer prototypes, again flown simultaneously on 29 January 1977. Both versions have the same designation in their respective countries, with no separate designation for two-seaters: J-22 Orao (eagle) in Yugoslavia and IAR-93 in Romania. Following the flight of the two-seat prototypes both companies began the construction of 15-aircraft pre-production batches, and the first examples were flown during 1978.
Series production of the IAR-93 began in 1979, and of the J-22 in 1980. The initial batch of 20 aircraft in each country lacked afterburners but introduced some changes by comparison with the prototypes. In Yugoslavia the lack of power led to allocation to the reconnaissance role, under the revised designation IJ-22, and there are persistent but unconfirmed reports that a handful of the batch were NJ-22 two-seat trainers. In Romania the initial batch of aircraft was designated IAR-93A, and again there were reports that the total included some two-seat trainers.
The definitive production aircraft featured the afterburning Viper Mk 633-41 engine, and was designated J-22(M) or Orao 2 in Yugoslavia, and IAR-93B in Romania. The Orao 2 prototype first flew on 20 October 1983, and the type entered production in 1984, although deliveries were delayed until 1986 by the non-arrival of afterburning engines. The variant introduced extended wing leading-edge roots, increased internal fuel capacity and the inboard overwing fences were deleted. Underwing hardpoints were uprated to carry loads of up to 500kg each, and the centreline was cleared for 800kg. Finally the aircraft received new avionics, including a Thomson-CSF VE-120T HUD. The prototype and some early aircraft were fitted with prominent vortex generators on each side of the Orao 2 in lacking ventral fins and tailplane anti-flutter weights, and in having a new ranging radar in the nose and a relocated Doppler antenna. The canopy is also redesigned, and now opens sideways, instead of upwards.
There are two-seat versions of both the IAR-93B and the J-22(M), the Yugoslav aircraft having the new designation Orao 2B or IMJ-22(M). Some of these two-seaters may have been produced by the conversion of early IAR-93A and NJ-22 trainers, since some retain the original four-fence wing. Whether the original trainers had the extended wingroot remains uncertain.