The IAR-99 Soim (Hawk) advanced trainer was developed in Romania to replace the Aero L-29 Delfin and L-39 Albatros jet trainers. Development of the aircraft began in 1975 and it entered series production in 1987. Until 1989 17 Soims were delivered to Romanian Air Forces.
The IAR-99 also has secondary light attack capability. It can also capable of performing reconnaissance missions.
The Soim was fitted with a license produced Rolls-Royce Viper Mk.623-41M engine, despite that Romania was a Warsaw Pact country.
The IAR-99 has four underwing hardpoints, capable of holding 250 kg each and one central hardpoint, capable of holding 400 kg. Aircraft is armed with a single GSh-23 23-mm twin-barrel cannon, podded on the central hardpoint. The Soim can carry R-60, AA-8 Aphid, Python 3 or R-550 Magic II air-to-air missiles. Aircraft has precision strike capability, using Opher IR-guided bombs or laser guided bombs. Other weapons include Mk 82, BEM 250, BE 100, BE 50 free-fall bombs and rocket pods. Drop tanks can be carried to extend operational range. A laser target designator or surveillance and reconnaissance pods cal also be carried.
The IAR-99 is fitted with a radar warning receiver, electronic countermeasures pod and chaff/flare decoy dispenser.
In 1992 an improved variant, the IAR-109 Swift was introduced. This aircraft was designed with Israel assistance. The IAR-109 Swift was equipped with HOTAS (Hands On Throttle and Stick) controls, wide angle head-up display and ring laser gyro inertial navigation system. This aircraft had integrated both Eastern and Western weapon systems. It's export variant was the IAR-109TF, which also had secondary light attack capability. However in 1994 this programme was interrupted.
In 1996 an upgrade programme of the IAR-99 Soim was revived. The first upgraded aircraft made it's maiden flight in 1997. In 1998 the Romanian Government ordered upgrade of IAR-99s. These upgraded aircraft were designated as the IAR-99C. Aircraft has Israeli avionics package compatible with 5th generation fighter systems. Romanian Air Force might operate a total of 12 upgraded IAR-99C Soims.