Simorgh Aircraft Takes Flight, Mythical Bird Now a Reality in Iran’s Skies

Iran unveils domestically redesigned "Simorgh" transport aircraft, boasting improved capabilities after parting ways with Ukrainian partner.  

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Tehran carried out flight testing of the “Simorgh” transport aircraft, which is manufactured by the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA). Mohammad Ashtiani, Iran’s Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, announced this. Simorgh refers to a mythical bird seen in Persian literature and folklore.

“The flight tests of this aircraft are being carried out with the assistance of the Civil Aviation Organization (of Iran), and after this stage, the ‘Simorgh’ aircraft will join the country’s fleet,” the Iranian media quoted Ashtiani as saying.

According to the head of the Ministry of Defense, a second aircraft of this model is presently being assembled. The late President Ebrahim Raisi delegated the Ministry of Defense the duty of developing the “Simorgh.” Ashtiani made clear that certain components of the aircraft are manufactured within Iran, while Tehran works in conjunction with several other nations to guarantee the supply of other components.

The Simorgh Project

In the 1990s, Iran began a collaborative initiative with the Ukrainian company Antonov to manufacture passenger aircraft within the country’s borders. In order to complete this project, the production line of the Antonov An-140 was moved to Iran and installed at HESA. The result was the IRAN-140, which is the name of the aircraft. The company manufactured many units of IRAN-140. However, the production line was halted due to technical considerations. In 2014, following the Tehran-Tabas flight accident, the Civil Aviation Organization banned the flight of this aircraft, and the engineers from Antonov who were in Iran left the country.

Nevertheless, the aircraft’s production line remained in the country. The IRAN-140 aircraft was redesigned by HESA to accommodate the operational requirements of the armed forces and broaden its range of applications. The aircraft’s design had to be altered to facilitate its use for other purposes, such as cargo transport, as a result of this redesign. In the aviation sector, even the slightest modifications to aircraft necessitate extensive technical expertise and numerous rigorous tests.

The Simorgh aircraft, equipped with two Klimov TV3-117 turboprop engines, has the capacity to travel a distance of 3,900 kilometers and achieve a maximum speed of 530 kilometers per hour. A runway that is at least 1,450 meters long is necessary for takeoff, while a runway that is approximately 1,000 meters long is necessary for landing. Iranian media says it is an appropriate choice for both military and commercial transport fleets, as it can transport up to 6 tons of cargo. The aircraft measures 23 meters in length, 25 meters in width, and 8 meters in height.

The Simorgh aircraft is designed to transport a variety of cargo, including light-wheeled vehicles. According to Eghtesad News, it is also capable of transporting injured personnel, as its interior space can accommodate 24 stretchers for this purpose. Paratrooper deployment and operations during emergencies are additional capabilities. Furthermore, the Simorgh can land and take off at facilities with minimal equipment. The Simorgh transport aircraft was unveiled on May 19, 2022.

A visual comparison of the IRAN-140 and the Simorgh reveals modifications to the aircraft’s structure, particularly in the empennage (tail section). These modifications include the addition of a movable cargo door (ramp) and modifications to the horizontal stabilizer structure, which includes both fixed and movable surfaces.

Precise aerodynamic and structural calculations were required to incorporate a movable cargo entrance into the rear fuselage. According to the Iranian media, the task was successfully executed by Iranian specialists in the design office and HESA company for the first time in the country’s aviation industry without the assistance of foreign countries.

The horizontal stabilizer is one of the most notable distinctions between the Simorgh and the IRAN-140. The Simorgh is distinguished by its flat horizontal stabilizer, in contrast to the IRAN-140’s V-shaped tail.

The wing configuration of the Simorgh has been redesigned and reengineered from trapezoidal to rectangular, which has resulted in an increase in wing area, which is another significant change in comparison to the IRAN-140.  

The increased wing area provides a variety of benefits, such as a greater induced drag, which improves stability and control; a larger fuel tank capacity, which enables longer flight durations; and a shorter runway length necessary for a takeoff and landing.

Simorgh’s designers also optimized the engine. The primary reason for this optimization and certain modifications to Simorgh’s engine compared to the IRAN-140 was that the previous engine was unsuitable for Iran’s climatic conditions.  


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