The Soko J-22 Orao (Eagle) is a ground attack and tactical reconnaissance aircraft with secondary low level interception role. The Orao was developed in the 1970s as a joint Yugoslav-Romanian project. This aircraft was built as a single-seat attack version or as a twin-seat combat trainer. Aircraft were built by Soko in Yugoslavia and Avioane Craviola in Romania. It is used by both nations. Romanian version is designated as the IAR-93 Vultur. Currently Serbian Air Force operates a total of 32 J-22 Orao aircraft.
This twin-engined subsonic aircraft has a simple structure and was built using both indigenous and license-produced avionics and equipment. The J-22 Orao recommended itself as tough (capable of operating unprepared airfields and damaged runways), easy to maintain and operate. It was designed as a conventional twin-engine, high-wing monoplane with swept flying surfaces. It was originally planned to power this aircraft with a single engine of British design, that would enable Orao to reach supersonic speeds. However United Kingdom did not authorize the license -production of such engine due to Romania being a member of the Warsaw Pact. Therefore it was decided to use less-powerful Rolls-Royce Viper engines, making it twin-engined instead.
The first Yugoslav made prototype made it's first flight in 1976 from Batajnica air base, located in Belgrad. In 1984 the Orao, piloted by a test pilot broke the sound barrier in a shallow dive while flying over Batajnica air base, making it the first Yugoslav-designed aircraft to exceed Mach 1. However the subsonic J-22 Orao is not capable of breaking the sound barrier in a level flight.
IJ-22 Orao 1, a designation applied to 10 Yugoslav-built pre-production aircraft with the non-afterburning engines and used for tactical reconnaissance role. It was equipped with a pod, carrying optical or infra red sensors;
J-22A Orao 1, a Yugoslavian variant that was similar to Romanian IAR-93A, fitted with non-afterburning engines consisting of two Rolls-Royce/Bristol Siddley Viper Mk 632-41R turbojets, license produced by Orao/Turbomecanica, but was larger in size and carried a more diverse weapons load;
J-22B Orao 2, a Yugoslav variant similar to the Romanian IAR-93B with an afterburning powerplant, greater and more diverse weapons load than J-22 Orao 1 and also equipped with Thomson-CSF head-up display. This version was built only in single-seat configuration;
NJ-22 Orao, a dedicated two-seat reconnaissance aircraft operated by the Yugoslavian Air Force. It is with a centerline mounted reconnaissance pod with optical and infra red sensors. This aircraft made it's first flight in 1986. A total of 35 of these aircraft were delivered in NJ-22 Orao 1 and NJ-22B Orao 2 versions, fitted with non-afterburning and afterburning powerplants respectively.