PICTURE: Serbia reveals light-attack Kobac

Belgrade
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Serbia has revealed a mock-up of a Kobac ("Sparrowhawk") light attack/counter-insurgency version of its Utva Lasta primary trainer.

Shown for the first time in public during an air show to mark 100 years of the Serbian air force on 2 September, the concept has been developed by Utva, the Serbian Military Technical Insitute and national arms trading company Yugoimport.

The main changes from the Lasta include the introduction of a turboprop engine and wingtip fuel tanks, which will enable a projected increase in maximum take-off weight to 1,650kg (3,640lb) and a top speed of 270kt (500km/h) in level flight and 298kt in a dive.

kobac light attack aircraft igor salinger

 Igor Salinger

The Kobac concept was first shown to senior military officials in April, when it was described as intended mainly to attract export customers. Chief designer Vojislav Devic said it was "designed for advanced training in all weather conditions, day and night, but also to be capable for border patrol tasks and strikes against targets on the ground".

In common with the Lasta, the Kobac will feature glass cockpit avionics, but have light ejection seats and more sophisticated navigation and targeting systems. With four under-wing hardpoints plus one on the centerline, the aircraft should be capable of carrying a variety of ordnance, including gun and cannon pods, bombs and unguided rocket launchers, as well as guided weapons.

While the mock-up appears to be based on an early series Lasta airframe with a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engine, computer-generated images presented by Yugoimport show a design more similar to the aircraft that have already been delivered to Iraqi and Serbian air forces, with a redesigned and strengthened wing, turboprop engine and a four-blade propeller.

The Kobac is expected to make its first flight by the end of 2013, or during 2014.