• The Simorgh’s similarity to the AN-140 is striking.

04.07.2022 By: Andreas Haug

Artikel Nummer: 41379

The next ‘phoenix’ from the ashes

Iran unveils a ‘new’ transport aircraft.   On 19 May Iran presented an aircraft it ‘designed’ itself. It looks remarkably like the Antonov AN-140, however. Like the ‘Shahed 171’ flying-wing reconnaissance drone, it is named after a fabled creature from Persian mythology, and is intended to meet the country’s specific needs for cargo transport.

In ancient Persia and all across Central Asia, the Simorgh is considered the king of birds that is in the possession of special powers. Iranian aviation also needs these, as it has been denied access to jet propulsion technology for many years now, on account of UN sanctions.

Now the king of birds has lent its name to a ‘new’ twin-engine turboprop aircraft that the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (Hesa) rolled out in Isfahan recently, amidst great media attention. The aeroplane could also be named after the mythical phoenix, however.

Two crashes have already occurred

At the presentation Iranian news agencies concealed a fact that seemed rather obvious, however. It’s hard to deny that the Simorgh would appear to be descended from the Antonov AN-140.

“It’s named after Simorgh, the king of birds – though the phoenix could also have been its namegiver.”

From 1993 onwards the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov developed a replacement for its ageing AN-24, with the new unit set to have a higher payload and also be able to take off and land on unpaved runways. From 2004 onwards, the AN-140, which made its maiden flight in 1997, was built serially under licence both in Russia as well as in Iran.

There, Hesa assembled a total of ten kits supplied from Ukraine. But the Iran-140 seemed cursed. In 2009 one crashed during a training flight, and after a passenger version crashed near Tehran in 2014, production in the country was discontinued.

Load 6 t of goods by tail ramp

Iranian defence minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani pointed out that the Simorgh is a “revised and upgraded version tailored to the needs of both military and civilian organisations and adapted to the country’s climatic conditions.”

The aircraft, whose propulsion system, components and fuselage were “designed and manufactured by experts from the ministry of defence as well as from indigenous knowledge-based firms”, meets international standards, he added.

The aircraft is 23 m long and can carry vehicles, crates and pallets weighing up to 6 t via a tail ramp – an advance over the Antonov AN-140. At maximum load, the Simorgh should have a range of approximately 900 km.


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