Iran has officially added the Simorgh transport plane to its air fleet. The aircraft is a modified version of the Ukrainian An-40. Iran had a manufacturing license for the An-140 but significantly modified the Simorgh to turn it into a military transport plane. These modifications included the addition of a rear cargo door with a ramp, which necessitated a significant modification to the empennage. Mehrdad Bazarpash, the Minister of Roads and Urban Development praised the capabilities of the Iran Aircraft Company (HESA), a subsidiary of the Iranian defense ministry.
Bazarpash urged HESA Group managers to expand aircraft manufacturing capacity to include passenger planes and expressed the need to promote national self-confidence in the aircraft industry and introduce its capabilities to industry stakeholders. He expressed hope to add a wholly domestic Iranian passenger plane to the aviation industry soon, stating that Iran has the necessary infrastructure for its production.
The Simorgh, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft named after a legendary bird in Persian mythology, made its maiden flight on May 30 in an airbase of Isfahan. After the flight Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammadreza Ashtiani described the Simorgh as an evolved and redesigned aircraft that meets the requirements of both civil and military institutions in Iran. He added that the plane was designed and constructed by specialists from the Ministry of Defense and knowledge-based companies, considering Iran's weather conditions and adhering to international standards.
Once the aircraft has completed testing and certification, it will be used by the Iranian Air Force for tactical transport operations. It will replace the current fleet of Fokker F27s, which are turboprop aircraft that were first introduced in the 1950s
The Simorgh, which underwent a development process of approximately six years, is a modified version of the An-140, a passenger turboprop aircraft originally designed by the Ukrainian Antonov in the late 1990s. According to HESA, the Simorgh has a payload capacity of six tons and a flight range of around 900 km (with full load).
HESA already possessed the manufacturing license for the turboprop and combined it with the IrAn-140. However, significant modifications were made to transform the Simorgh into a military aircraft, including adding a rear cargo door with a ramp. This alteration necessitated substantially modifying the empennage, resulting in its raised position.
There is irony in revealing the plane at the present time. While Iran is providing Russia with Shahed-136 One Way Attack drones - it was revealed that the Simorgh a is nothing more than a Ukrainian An-140 plane that has been reverse-engineered and underwent an illegal modernization process, transforming it into a transport configuration.
What makes this revelation even more intriguing is the collaboration during the upgrade. Representatives from the Russian company Aviakor, which had previously been involved in manufacturing Ukrainian An-140 aircraft, worked alongside Iran in this project.
Aviator abruptly halted the manufacturing program for the Antonov An-140 in August 2015. Disruptions influenced this decision in the supply chain and the deteriorating diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Russia following Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent international sanctions. In pursuing the Simorgh project, Iran actually went against its license agreements with Ukraine, which had not given approval for such modifications.
The imposition of sanctions on Iran substantially impacts its aviation sector. As a result, Iran's aviation industry faces numerous challenges and restrictions regarding aircraft procurement, spare parts and maintenance, financial transactions, and International Collaboration.
Despite these challenges, Iran has sought alternative ways to overcome the impact of the sanctions. This includes modifying and reverse-engineering existing aircraft and establishing closer ties with countries that are not bound by the same sanctions.