|IAR 330 Puma|
|IAR 330 SOCAT|
|First flight||22 October 1975|
|Status||Operational In production|
|Primary users||Romanian Air Force
Sudan Air Force
|Number built||≥ 163|
|Developed from||Aérospatiale Puma|
The IAR 330 is the Romanian-built version of Aérospatiale's SA 330 Puma helicopter, manufactured by IAR Braşov. Twenty-four helicopters have been recently upgraded to IAR 330 SOCAT in cooperation with Elbit Systems (Israel).
Design and development
Despite being a COMECON and Warsaw Pact member, Romania strove for some measure of independence from the USSR. Instead of buying popular Soviet designs, Romania bought a licence to manufacture the French Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma on 30 July 1974. The first licensed helicopter was flown on 22 October 1975 under the designation IAR-330L.
163 of these helicopters have been built, out of which 104 were assigned to Romania's military, 2 remained in factory and 57 were produced for export (Pakistan, Ivory Coast, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Ecuador). There is also a search and rescue (SAR) version, fitted with inflatable floaters for emergency landing at sea, which has been built in a small batch. Production is still ongoing at the Industria Aeronautică Română Ghimbav plant near Braşov.
In 1990s, the Romanian Air Force decided to enhance combat capabilities of IAR-330L, making it a universal anti-tank and support helicopter. At that time, Romania started to cooperate with Israel on some military programs. The Israeli company Elbit Systems was chosen, and in September 1995 the Romanian Air Force signed the contract to upgrade 24 helicopters with the SOCAT system (Sistem Optronic de Cercetare si Anti-Tanc). The first IAR-330L SOCAT was flown on 26 May 1998, from the airport of IAR S.A. in Ghimbav, near Braşov. On 23 October 1999, the second prototype flew. The first IAR-330L SOCAT was delivered to a combat unit in 2001. In all, 25 SOCATs were made, including the prototype, rebuilt to a serial configuration in 2005.
IAR-330M NATO Puma is a modernized transport version, with SOCAT version's avionics, but without weapons and optronic systems. Among others, it has a weather radar. 12 helicopters IAR-330L were modernized to 330M in 2005-2008.
The first IAR 330 Puma NAVAL helicopter was officially unveiled at Ghimbav on 30 January 2007. The Romanian Naval Forces ordered 3 IAR 330 Naval helicopters, the last one should be commissioned early 2008. The helicopter is in a similar configuration to those of the Romanian Air Force, including the SOCAT upgrade package, the Navy Pumas also have flotation gear fitted under the nose and main undercarriage fairings. After completing factory tests and sea trials, they will be operated from Navy frigates for search and rescue, medevac and maritime surveillance missions.
- IAR 330H - initial model (1975-1977).
- IAR 330L - improved model (1977-present).
- IAR 330M - modernized variant.
- IAR 330L SOCAT - attack helicopter.
- IAR 330 NAVAL - naval helicopter.
- IAR 330 SM - export configuration for UAE.
- An IAR 330 SOCAT crashed on August 16th 2001 during a training flight. The crash occurred at an altitude of 50 metres, wounding the crew.
- An IAR 330 SOCAT helicopter crashed on November 7, 2007, in Ungheni, 30 km south of Piteşti, Argeş County, during a night training mission, killing all three crew members.
- An IAR 330 SOCAT crashed on March 7th 2013 in Beresti-Bistrita, near Bacau, during a training flight, killing two crew members and wounding three other crew members. Romanian Air Force and Navy grounded the entire IAR 330 SOCAT fleet pending an investigation into the crash. 
Data from
- Crew: 3
- Length: 15 m (49 ft 3 in)
- Height: 4.6 m (15 ft 1 in)
- Empty weight: 3,615 kg (7,970 lb)
- useful load: 1,000 kg (2,205 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 7,400 kg (16,314 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Turboméca Turmo IVB turboshaft engines, 1,044 kW (1,400 hp) each
- Main rotor diameter: 16.2 m (53 ft 2 in)
- Main rotor area: 206.15 m2 (2,219.0 sq ft)
- Maximum speed: 263 km/h (163 mph; 142 kn)
- Range: 550 km (342 mi; 297 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 4,800 m (15,748 ft)
- Rate of climb: 9.2 m/s (1,810 ft/min)
- 2 x 23mm single barrel NR-23 gun pods (on the sides of the nose) with 400 rounds each (optional)
- LPR 57 unguided rocket launcher (optional, on 4 hardpoints)
- 2 x 7.62 mm caliber door mounted machine guns (usually only one mounted on the starboard side)
- Malyutka wire guided ATGM (4 rails above the hardpoints, used only on trials)
- 50 or 100 kg bombs (4 hardpoints, used only on trials)
- Nexter THL-20 20mm chain gun (chin mounted) with 750 rounds
- LPR 57 unguided rocket launcher (inner 2 hardpoints)
- 8 RAFAEL Spike-ER anti-tank guided missiles (outer 2 hardpoints)
- Nexter NC-621 20mm gun pod with 180 rounds (outer 2 hardpoints, used only on trials)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- Marnix Sap, Carlo Brummer: Fortele Aeriene Romane in: Lotnictwo Nr. 4/2010, pp. 40-41 (Polish)
- IAR-330 Puma SOCAT
- First IAR 330 Puma Naval helicopter enters Romanian Naval Forces service, Ziarul Financiar, July 12, 2007. Retrieved on July 20, 2008.
- "Arms Transfers Database". Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- "IAR 330 Puma". airforce-technology.com. Retrieved 17-February-2013.
- IISS Military Balance 2010
- "World Air Forces 2013". Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- "Lebanon takes delivery of three more IAR 330 Pumas". Janes-Defence-Weekly-2010. Retrieved 17-February-2013.
- Helicopter crashed near Piteşti killing three people aboard, Antena 3, November 7, 2007.
- "Helicopter crashed near Bacau killing two and wounding three crew"
- IAR-330 Puma at Romanian Air Forces official page [retrieved 18-5-2011]
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