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SOKO (Cyrillic: СОКО) was an Yugoslav aircraft manufacturer based in Mostar, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina. The company was responsible for the production of many military aircraft for the Yugoslav Air Force.
It was created in 1950 by the relocation of the aircraft factory section of Ikarus company from Zemun, SR Serbia. Officially founded as "Preduzeće Soko" (Soko corporation), soon after it will be renamed to "Soko Vazduhoplovna Industrija, RO Vazduhoplovstvo" (Soko aeronautical industry, RO aeronautics). Its first director was Yugoslav People's Army colonel Ivan Sert. The following directors of the company were engineers Miljenko Pješčić and Tomislav Mirić. The serial manufacture of numerous types of aircraft was projected by the Aeronautical Technical Institute in Belgrade. Besides aircraft, SOKO also produced helicopters under licence. Located in the vicinity of Mostar, it mostly used the Mostar Airport for test flights.
By the 1980s SOKO was working on Novi Avion which was a project of a 4th-generation, supersonic multi-role fighter intended to supply the Yugoslav Air Force with domestically built modern fighters. The production was planned to begin in 1991 however the start of the Yugoslav wars and the international embargo made the project to be cancelled. In the early 1990s the factory ceased aircraft production. The facilities were partially desmanteled and relocated to Serbia to the Utva Aircraft Industry in Pančevo which had already been working closelly with SOKO in the manufacturing of Orao and Super Galeb.
After the relocation of the infrastructure and personal from the aeronautical section of the Ikarus factory in Zemun, SOKO begin working on the aeronautical technology. At the beginning, beside producing Soko 522 they also performed the maintenance of the Yugoslav Air Force American-built F-84 Thunderjets. Between its foundation and until the early 1990s, SOKO continuously produced a series of original aircraft projected by the Aeronautical Technical Institute, of which the last one was the G-4 Super Galeb. These were the following aircraft and helicopters produced at SOKO including the years they were introduced:
- Soko 522 (1955, initially built in Ikarus)
- Soko S-55 (licence built helicopter)
- Soko J-20 Kraguj (1964)
- Soko J-21 Jastreb (1967)
- Soko J-22 Orao (1978)
- Soko G-2 Galeb (1965)
- Soko G-4 Super Galeb (1983)
- Soko Gazelle (licence built helicopter)
- Novi Avion (project)
During the 1970s and 1980s, SOKO and Avioane Craiova of Romania, co-developed the Soko J-22 Orao and IAR-93, respectively. Soko also cooperated with Sikorsky, Westland and Aérospatiale in producing various helicopters under license.
The production of the aircraft was mainly destined to fullfill the needs of the Yugoslav Air Force, however exporting the aircraft was also an option. J-1 Jastreb were exported to Libya and Zambia. G-2 Galeb was exported to Libya, Zaire and Zambia. Six Super Galeb´s were exported to Burma, while the start of the Yugoslav wars and the international sanctions halted the production and blocked the orders of Super Galeb´s to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Gazelle helicopters were also exported.
Today SOKO produces auto parts focusing mostly on transmissions, drive shafts and gears.
- Novi avion at vazduhoplovnetradicijesrbije.rs, retrieved 4-12-2013 (Serbian)
- Yugoslavia - The Aviation Industry at aeroflight.co.uk, retrieved 4-12-2013
- Galeb at fas.org
- Zaire/DR Congo since 1980 at acig.org, 2-9-2003, retrieved 4-12-2013
- Taylor 1982, p. 487
- G-4 Super Galeb at Museum of Aviation (Belgrade) official website, retrieved 4-12-2013 (Serbian)