Since its establishment in 1953, the company's name has changed numerous times in turn from U.R.A. to I.R.Av, I.Av. and finally Aerostar. It has been a subsidiary of the Ministry of Armed Forces, Air Defence Headquarters, General Industrial Direction of the Army, the Ministry of Machine Building Industry as part of the Central Department for Fine Mechanics and Aeronautical Industry, of Bucharest Aeronautical Group or of the National Centre of the Romanian Aeronautical industry.
Aerostar has been a major provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for all aircraft types used by the Romanian military. The company also developed the IAR-93 twin-engine, tactical ground-attack and reconnaissance aircraft, which was the first fighter aircraft produced in Romania following the end of the Second World War. Furthermore, the company has also produced more than 1,800 Yak-52 trainer aircraft; it was manufactured in Romania in three versions: the Iak-52, Iak-52W, and Iak-52TW. Aerostar developed its own range of light civil aircraft for aerobatics and sport aviation, such as the Festival light-sport aircraft.
During the 1990s and 2000s, upgrade programs for the both MiG-21 (MiG-21 LanceR) and MiG-29 were developed by Aerostar in cooperation with the Israeli defense electronics specialist Elbit Systems. Aerostar has implemented these upgrades to produce the Romanian Air Force's MiG-21 LanceR fleet from its existing inventory of MiG-21 and MiG-21 bis fighters. The firm has also supplied similarly-upgraded MiG-21s to international operators, such as the Mozambique Air Force. However, the MiG-29 SNIPER upgrade never progressed being a technological demonstrator as the service opted to concentrate its limited resources upon the MiG-21 instead. Around the same time, a modernisation program was also carried out on the Iak-52W and Iak-52TW trainers. The firm was also involved in the LAROM modernization program, which upgraded the 40 APRA 122 FMC multiple rocket launchers belonging to the Romanian Army.
During the 1990s and 2000s, the company became engaged in numerous international projects, regularly in partnership with various other aerospace companies, including Elbit Systems, Thales Group (Thomson-CSF), EADS (DaimlerChrysler Aerospace) and Textron Marine & Land Systems. On separate occasions, Aerostar's management has stated that such partnerships are a deliberate element of the company's long term strategy. One major sector of work for the firm has been the aerostructures sector. Throughout the 2010s, Aerostar has continued to restructure its operations in pursuit of international customers, intending to achieve a decreased level of reliance upon domestic consumers such as the Romanian military.
Starting in the 1990s, the Romanian government launched efforts to privatise many of its state-owned assets, including Aerostar. According to aerospace periodical Flight International, various international companies, including the German aerospace conglomerate DASA, reportedly took an interest in acquiring the company. In February 2000, it was announced that the Romanian government's 69.99 percent stake in the firm would be acquired by a private consortium of Aerostar management and employees (PAS) and IAROM; the nation maintained a golden share to potentially veto decisions that would seriously impact the firm's defense capabilities. That same year, Aerostar was restructured as a limited liability company, reportedly for tax purposes as well as to increase its appeal to potential investors, which were actively sought to fund the firm's expansion plans.
In the mid-2000s, Aerostar was contracted to produce Southern Condor powered parachute airframes for the American company Southern Powered Parachutes, which were sold to consumers in the North American market. During the late 2000s, the company started manufacturing a new line of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with Israeli assistance; multiple deals were arranged with foreign militaries for Aerostar-built UAVs. In 2011, the firm received work from an agreement between Elbit and the Romanian Air Force to upgrade the latter's fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules cargo planes.
In recent decades, Aerostar has sought to provide its MRO services to various commercial and international operators; since 2003, the servicing and heavy maintenance of civilian Boeing 737s has been one such undertaking. In 2012, to provide increased capacity for this work, a new hangar was completed at the company's Bacau facility. During May 2015, Russian low-cost airline Utair arranged for its 737 fleet to be serviced by the firm; by this point, upwards of 50 737s per year were receiving C-checks alone at Aerostar's facilities. Similarly, the company has also provided MRO services for operators of the Airbus A320 family.
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