The IAR 330 is a licence-built version of the Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma helicopter, manufactured by the Romanian aerospace manufacturer IAR Brașov.

IAR 330 Puma
Romanian air force IAR 330 Puma during Carpathian Summer 19 (cropped).jpg
A Romanian Air Force IAR 330 Puma performs MEDEVAC duty
Role Utility helicopter/gunship/naval helicopter
Manufacturer Industria Aeronautică Română
First flight 22 October 1975
Status In service
Primary users Romanian Air Force
Romanian Navy
United Arab Emirates Air Force
Sudan Air Force
Produced 1975–2008
Number built ≥ 163[1]
Developed from Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma

The IAR 330 was produced under a licensing agreement with the French aerospace firm Aérospatiale, signed on 30 July 1974. On 22 October 1975, the first Romanian-built Puma conducted its maiden flight. Deliveries to customers begun shortly thereafter; by 1980, around 25 IAR 330s had been produced for both domestic and overseas customers. Various oversea countries opted to procure the IAR 330, including Pakistan, Ivory Coast, United Arab Emirates, and Sudan. The largest operator of the type would be the Romanian Air Force, who initially used it primarily as a utility transport.

During the 1990s, there was a desire for a rotary anti-tank capability, as well as to integrate Romania's defense equipment with NATO. Accordingly, during the 2000s, IAR collaborated with the Israeli defense company Elbit Systems to produce twenty-four IAR 330 SOCAT helicopters, which was designed for anti-tank and battlefield support operations.[2] A modernized utility transport model equipped NATO-compatible avionics derived from the SOCAT, referred to as the IAR 330M, was also produced around this time. A navalised model, capable of search and rescue, medevac, and maritime surveillance, was also developed. The final IAR 330 was produced in 2008; the programme has effectively been replaced by the Airbus Helicopters H215 Super Puma, the production of which was transferred to Brașov under Eurocopter Romania, a joint venture between Airbus Helicopters and IAR.

Design and developmentEdit


Throughout most of the Cold War, Romania was a member of both COMECON and the Warsaw Pact. Despite this, Ceaușescu government sought to avoid becoming overly depend on support from the Soviet Union and maintain independence.[3] Accordingly, it was desirable for military equipment to be developed entirely or partially in Romania to bolster the nation's self-reliance, while partnerships with third party countries were also sought for the supply of large ticket items. During the early 1970s, multiple companies, including the French aerospace firm Aérospatiale and the American helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, were invited to demonstrate their helicopters to the Romanian government, which held the intention of acquiring a license to produce their preferred rotorcraft.

Accordingly, on 11 October 1973, the Sikorsky S-61 was formally pitched to a group of Romanian representatives, which included a test flight performed at Băneasa Airport. Between 13-15 October of that same month, a presentation at the Romanian aerospace manufacturer Întreprinderea de Construcții Aeronautice's (IAR) facility at Ghimbav.[4] The Puma was demonstrated on 20 October. On 30 July 1974, it was announced that Romania had signed a licensing agreement covering the local production of the Puma by IAR. A separate agreement was also signed to undertake the licensed production of the Turboméca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines that powered the type.[5]

Initial productionEdit

On 22 October 1975, the first Romanian-built Puma, which was locally designation IAR 330H, performed its maiden flight.[1] Quantity production of the type proceeded shortly thereafter; by 1980, around 25 IAR 330s had reportedly been produced, with the deliveries evenly divided between domestic and overseas customers.[5] By 2010, around 163 of these helicopters have reportedly been built, 104 of which were delivered to the air wings of the Romanian military, while two were retained by the manufacturer and a further 57 were produced for various export operators.[1] Oversea countries that procured the IAR 330 include Pakistan, Ivory Coast, United Arab Emirates, and Sudan.

By the end of the Cold War, the IAR 330 was well established as the principal rotorcraft of Romania.[6] Furthermore, specialised variants of the helicopter were developed for roles such as naval warfare, search and rescue (SAR), command & control, and medevac operations, typically being produced in limited numbers. The SAR model was outfitted with inflatable floats for emergency landing at sea. Production of the IAR 330 continued into the 21st century, performed by the Industria Aeronautică Română (presently known as IAR S.A. Brașov) at their plant outside Brașov. In 2008, the final Romanian-built helicopter was reportedly manufactured, the company was privatised that same year.[7][8] In November 2015, Airbus Helicopters announced that all final assembly of the Airbus Helicopters H215 Super Puma, the successor to the original Puma, would be transferred to a final assembly line in Brașov under Eurocopter Romania, a joint venture between Airbus Helicopters and IAR; as such, this initiative effectively took the place of the IAR 330 programme.[9][10]

Operational historyEdit

The IAR-330 Puma SOCAT used for anti-armor warfare

During the 1990s, the Romanian Air Force sought to enhance the combat capabilities of its IAR 330L fleet to make it into a universal anti-tank and support helicopter. By this time, Romania started to cooperate with Israel on several different military programs.[11] The Israeli company Elbit Systems was chosen and, in September 1995, the Romanian Air Force signed a contract with the company to upgrade 24 helicopters with the SOCAT system (Sistem Optronic de Cercetare și Anti-Tanc).[1][12] On 26 May 1998, the first IAR 330L SOCAT was flown from IAR's airfield in Ghimbav, near Brașov.[13] On 23 October 1999, the second prototype made its first flight. During 2001, the first IAR 330L SOCAT was delivered to a combat unit. In all, 25 SOCATs were produced, including the prototypes, which were rebuilt to production standard in 2005.[1][14]

The IAR 330M NATO is a modernized transport version with the SOCAT version's avionics, but without either the weapons and optronic systems. Among other features, it has a weather radar. Between 2005 and 2008, twelve IAR 330Ls were modernized to the IAR 330M standard.[1] By the early 2020s, several of the IAR 330 SOCATs were approaching their original operational limits, thus the Romanian Air Force begun contracting IAR to replace life-expired elements and thus facilitate the type's continued service.[15]

On 30 January 2007, the first IAR 330 NAVAL helicopter was officially unveiled at Ghimbav. The Romanian Naval Forces ordered three of this variant. The helicopter is in a similar configuration to the Romanian Air Force variant, including the SOCAT upgrade package; however, the Navy rotorcraft are equipped with flotation gear housed underneath the nose and main undercarriage fairings. Much of the mission-specific avionics are supplied by the French defense company Thales Group.[16][17] They are typically operated from the Navy's frigates and undertake missions such as search and rescue, medevac, and maritime surveillance missions.[18][19]


IAR 330 Puma NAVAL variant.
  • IAR 330H – initial model (1975–1977). 15 built.[4]
  • IAR 330L – improved model (1977–present). Out of the 165 built, 112 went into service with the Romanian armed forces.[4]
  • IAR 330M – modernized variant with NATO-compatible avionics derived from the SOCAT model, 12 IAR 330Ls rebuilt as such between 2005 and 2008.[1]
  • IAR 330L SOCAT – attack helicopter, total of 25 produced during the early to mid 2000s.[1]
  • IAR 330 NAVAL – naval helicopter. 3 built between 2005 and 2008, with further trials and upgrades up to 2015.[7][20]
  • IAR 330 SM – equipped with Turbomeca Makila 1A1 engines[21] (export configuration for the United Arab Emirates).


Map of current and former IAR 330 operators.
  Democratic Republic of the Congo
  Ivory Coast
  United Arab Emirates
  • United Arab Emirates Air Force - 20. An initial 10 IAR-330L were delivered between 1993 and 1994, a further 10 IAR-330SM were supplied between 2006 and 2007.[22][28] At least 7 SMs were transferred to the Lebanese Air Force between 2009 and 2011.[29]

Notable incidentsEdit

  • On 23 December 1989, an IAR 330 crash landed after having been presumably shot at during a transport flight near Alba Iulia, killing the crew of three and two passengers.[30]
  • On 16 August 2001, an IAR 330 SOCAT crashed during a training flight shortly after take-off from Titu Air Base. The crash occurred at an altitude of 50 metres (165 ft.), wounding the crew.[1]
  • On 7 November 2007, an IAR 330 SOCAT, belonging to the 90th Airlift Base, crashed in Ungheni, 30 km south of Pitești, during a night training mission, killing all three crew members.[31]
  • On 7 March 2013, an IAR 330 SOCAT crashed in Berești-Bistrița, near Bacău, during a training flight, killing two crew members and wounding three other crew members. The Romanian Air Force and Navy grounded the entire IAR 330 SOCAT fleet pending an investigation into the crash.[32]
  • On 21 November 2014, an IAR-330 MEDEVAC crashed in Mălâncrav, near Sibiu, during a training flight, killing eight military personnel and injuring two others.[33]
  • On 22 March 2022, an IAR 330 crashed near the village of Gura Dobrogei, Cogealac Commune, amid adverse weather conditions while searching for a crashed MiG-21 Lancer in the area, killing seven military personnel.[34]

Specifications (IAR-330L)Edit

Pair of IAR 330s in flight
Diver dropping toward the water from an IAR-330L Puma, 1992

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1992–1993[35]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1–3
  • Capacity: 16 fully equipped troops
  • Length: 18.15 m (59 ft 7 in) (overall), 14.06 m (46 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 5.14 m (16 ft 10 in)
  • Empty weight: 3,615 kg (7,970 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 7,400 kg (16,314 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Turboméca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines, 1,175 kW (1,576 hp) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 15.00 m (49 ft 3 in)
  • Main rotor area: 176.7 m2 (1,902 sq ft)


  • Cruise speed: 271 km/h (168 mph, 146 kn) (max cruise)
  • Never exceed speed: 294 km/h (183 mph, 159 kn)
  • Range: 572 km (355 mi, 309 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 9.2 m/s (1,810 ft/min)


  • 2 x 23 mm single barrel NR-23 gun pods (on the sides of the nose) with 400 rounds each (optional)[36]
  • LPR 57 unguided rocket launcher (optional, on four hardpoints)[36]
  • 2 x 7.62 mm calibre door mounted machine guns[36] (usually only one mounted on the starboard side)
  • Malyutka wire guided ATGM (four rails above the hardpoints, used only on trials)
  • 50 or 100 kg bombs (four hardpoints, used only on trials)

Puma SOCAT[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Marnix Sap, Carlo Brummer: Fortele Aeriene Romane in: Lotnictwo Nr. 4/2010, pp. 40–41 (in Polish)
  2. ^ "IAR-330 Puma SOCAT". Archived from the original on 7 October 2007.
  3. ^ Romania 2009, p. 34.
  4. ^ a b c Turturică, Sorin (14 December 2020). "Cum a început România să construiască elicoptere". Trustul de presă al Ministerului aparării naționale. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  5. ^ a b Bowie, David C. (1981). "Romania open to Western Help in carrying out ambitious plans to expand its aircraft industry". Business America: Volume 4. U.S. Department of Commerce: 12.
  6. ^ Brooks and Gott 2006, p. 574.
  7. ^ a b Iacob, Mădălin (17 December 2015). "Al treilea elicopter IAR 330 Puma Naval, livrat MApN". România Actualități. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Business Briefs". 11 April 2008.
  9. ^ "Romania to host production of new, robust, and cost-effective H215 heavy helicopter." Airbus Helicopters, 17 November 2015.
  10. ^ "EC ROMANIA (EUROCOPTER ROMANIA SA)" Archived 18 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Eurocopter. Accessed 9 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Romania shows upgrades". 18 June 1997.
  12. ^ Romania 2009, p. 77.
  13. ^ Jeziorski, Andrzej; Egozi, Arie (10 June 1998). "Romania begins tests of IAR330 helicopter anti-tank upgrade".
  14. ^ Goagă, Gabriel (2017). "Avionics System of the Combat Helicopter in Romanian Air Force". International Scientific Conference "Strategies XXI", Suppl. Command and Staff Faculty; Bucharest.
  15. ^ "Romania to replace parts on two Pumas". 12 January 2021.
  16. ^ Hoyle, Craig (17 June 2013). "PARIS: Thales gets Romanian Puma equipment contract".
  17. ^ Pavel, P. Booij; Boer, J. (2007). "First Steps towards the certification of IAR-330 Puma naval for helicopter-ship operations". S2CID 55849122. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ First IAR 330 Puma Naval helicopter enters Romanian Naval Forces service Archived 23 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Ziarul Financiar, 12 July 2007. Retrieved on 20 July 2008.
  19. ^ Romania 2009, p. 74.
  20. ^ Manole, Gabriel (4 April 2017). "IAR 330 PUMA – Vânătorul de submarine". Auto Test Magazin.
  21. ^ "IAR S.A. Annual Report" (PDF). Bucharest Stock Exchange. 29 April 2021. p. 2.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "Arms Transfers Database". Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  23. ^ "UNROCA original report - Romania 2003". United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
  24. ^ "IAR 330 Puma". Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  25. ^ "IISS Military Balance 2010". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
  26. ^ a b c "World Air Forces 2013" (PDF). Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  27. ^ Romania 2009, pp. 78-79.
  28. ^ "Lebanon takes delivery of three more IAR 330 Pumas". Janes-Defence-Weekly-2010. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  29. ^ van Veenendaal, Jeroen (17 January 2019). "A force on the rise". Key Military.
  30. ^ Harsan, Carol (18 December 2007). "Oameni-cheie ai Revoluției au murit suspect". România liberă (in Romanian).
  31. ^ "Helicopter crashed near Pitești killing three people aboard". Antena 3. 7 November 2007. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
  32. ^ "Helicopter crashed near Bacău killing two and wounding three crew".
  33. ^ "8 Military Dead in Helicopter Crash in Romania".
  34. ^ "Un avion MiG 21 LanceR a dispărut de pe radar în județul Constanța. Elicopterul care a plecat în căutarea avionului s-a prăbușit. Șapte militari au decedat. Avionul MiG s-a prăbușit" (in Romanian). G4 Media. 2 March 2022.
  35. ^ Lambert 1992, p. 193.
  36. ^ a b c IAR-330 Puma Archived 26 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine at Romanian Air Forces official page [retrieved 18 May 2011]


External linksEdit