Soko G-4 Super Galeb: High-End Trainer

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Soko G-4 Super Galeb, Yugoslav Air Force, 1983-Present
Part of the Yugoslav Air Tree suggestion

Introduction:
The Soko G-4 Super Galeb (also known by its official Air Force designation N-62) is a Yugoslav two-seater jet trainer and light attack aircraft which entered production in the Soko factory in the 1980s. Though heavier armed than its 1960s predecessors, the G-4 is still held back by a lack of guided weaponry - this was fixed in a later modernization.

Variants:
The G-4 PPP refers to the first prototype and six pre-production planes, which featured a different horizontal tail with elevators.

The G-4 Super Galeb is the main production version, known as the N-62 under the Yugoslav Air Force designation system.

The G-4M was a prototype modification with new equipment, higher-rated hardpoints, guided AAMs and AGMs. It will be covered in detail in a different suggestion.

Specifications:
Crew: 2

Dimensions
Length: 11.86 m
Wingspan: 9.88 m
Height: 4.28 m
Wing area: 19.5 m²

Mass
Empty: 3,250 kg
Max take-off: 6,330 kg

Propulsion
Engine: Rolls Royce Viper Mk 632-46
Thrust: 17.8 kN

Performance
Maximum speed: 910 km/h
Minimum speed: 171 km/h
Climb rate: 30 m/s
Range: 1,700 km
Flight ceiling: 14,800 m

Armament
GSh-23L 23 mm twin-barrel cannon in a removable ventral pod (200 rounds)

4 wing hardpoints (2 inner are rated at 350 kg and 2 outer at 250 kg) can carry:

  • 4x 250kg FAB-250 bombs
  • 4x 500lb Mk 82 Snakeye high-drag bombs
  • 2x 750lb bombs (inner hardpoints only)
    • Unclear if any 750lb bombs were operated or tested by the JRV, but this option was shown in a sheet with armament options
  • 4x SN-3-50 carriers for 3 50kg bombs each
  • 4x 150lt PLAB-150 napalm bombs
  • 4x 200lt PLAB-200 napalm bombs
  • 2x 420lt PLAB-350 napalm bombs (inner hardpoints only)
  • 4x L-128-04 rocket launchers
    • 4x domestic 128mm NRZ-128 “Munja” rockets
      • M74 HE warhead or
      • M80 HEAT warhead
  • 4x L-16-57 rocket launchers
    • 16x 57mm BR-1-57 (S-5M) rockets or
    • 16x 57mm BR-2-57 (S-5K) rockets

Countermeasures:

  • 2x POJ-264 containers, each has 40 flares (IC-3) and 8 chaff (PA-1)
    • Gradually installed in all G-4s since the adoption of the light attack role in the 1990s

RWR:

  • Iskra SO-1 (local copy of the SPO-10)
    • 4 warning lights to show signal direction

History:
Development of the G-4 Super Galeb started in the 1970s, as the Yugoslav Air Force looked for a jet trainer aircraft to replace its older, straight-winged G-2 Galeb jets. Though it inherited the name of its predecessor, the Super Galeb’s only main similarities with the Galeb were its intended role and the Rolls Royce Viper engine - albeit a later variant, the Mk 632. The G-4 prototype (no.23004) first flew on July 18, 1978, and featured a fixed horizontal tailplane with inset elevators. A pre-production batch of 6 planes was hastily approved before the second prototype with its alternative tail had even flown.

The second prototype, which flew in 1979, featured an all-moving tailplane at a downwards angle (anhedral). It was chosen as the production model over the first prototype (which had received the designation G-4 PPP), with the Soko factory in Mostar responsible for final assembly and delivery. Serial production began in 1983, with 91 Super Galebs built in total: six were delivered to Burma, and the rest served in the Yugoslav Air Force under the N-62 designation.

The G-4 was met positively by pilots, due to its role both as a trainer and as a light attack aircraft with good maneuvering characteristics. While in Yugoslav service, the Super Galeb was test flown by American pilots as part of the JPATS program to procure a new trainer aircraft for the USAF and USN. The Americans gave many positive remarks when it came to its flight characteristics, but its outdated engine and high fuel consumption were major drawbacks. A team was drawn up to fix them, but the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991 drew the project to a halt, and a modified PC-9 would later be chosen as the JPATS winner.

G-4 Super Galebs took off in combat missions over Croatia and Bosnia in the early days of the Yugoslav Wars, only having unguided weapons at their disposal and being forced to enter the zone of the separatists’ air defense. Four were shot down in total, though with no loss of life for the pilots. Later, during the NATO bombings, 7 armed and 16 unarmed Super Galebs would be destroyed on their airfields, while others flew in combat missions.

Upgrade programs were conceived for the G-4 Super Galeb, the first one being a major redesign of the fuselage for the installation of a Viper Mk. 680 engine with new weapons and self-homing air-to-air missiles. The collapse of Yugoslavia and deterioration of relations with the West put an end to this, but a more modest upgrade was chosen in the 1990s: it involved the integration of R-60 and AGM-65B missiles. This was known as the G-4M, and will be covered in a different suggestion. Serbia continues operating the G-4 to this day, with another project called the “G-4MD” floating around to upgrade the Super Galebs with new avionics. It has not yet been introduced.

Gallery:

Gallery


The G-4 prototype with its fixed tailplane.

G4 6

G4 7

G4 cockpit


An excerpt from the Air Force magazine comparing the G-4’s turning abilities to other trainers and fighters. The second Super Galeb following a dashed line shows the performance of the projected G-4 with a Viper 680 engine, which was never completed.

Sources:

Sources

Soko G-4 Super Galeb: Development, Combat, and Future Upgrades

Музеј ваздухопловства-Београд :: Ризница Музеја

Ponovo u centru pažnje: Istorija planova modernizacije aviona Super Galeb G-4 - Tango Six

https://vazduhoplovnetradicijesrbije.rs/index.php/clanak/g4-super-galeb

https://www.airwar.ru/enc/attack/g4.html

A Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware (Routledge Revivals), p.466 [available on Google Books A Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware (Routledge Revivals) - Christopher Chant - Google Books]

Haditechnika magazine, issue 2001/3 [available on Scribd G4 Haditechnika | PDF]

Glasnik RV i PVO magazine (unknown issue)

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+1 for Yugoslav tree!