Named after a valley in Israels Negev dessert, the STOL
transport Arava was intended to fulfil a variety of civil and
military roles. It has full rough-field performance capabilities and
a twin-boom layout was chosen to ease loading through the swing-tail
cargo door. Design started in 1966 and the construction of the
prototypes began towards the end of the same year.
The first prototype (4X-IAI) flew for the first time November 27, 1969
powered by two 720 shp PT6A-27 turboprops; while conducting flutter
test it crashed on November 19, 1970, on its 93rd flight and after 110
flying hours. The second prototype (4X-IAA) flew for the first time
on May 8, 1971, and the FAA Type Certificate for the civil production
version IAI-101 Arava was issued in April 1972.
The 101 can carry 20 passengers, so does the IAI-102 Arava, the
latter version was certified by the Israel Civil Aviation Authorities
in April 1976. It was also offered in a VIP configuration for 12
passengers, as a flying clinic, and in versions for mapping, mining
research, oil prospecting, rainmaking, bridge construction, and as a
flying laboratories for agriculture and health ministries.
The IAI-201 Arava military transport version was based on the IAI-101
and the prototype (4X-IAB) made its first flight on March 7, 1972. The
IAI-201 can carry 24 fully equipped military personnel or 17
paratroopers or 12 stretchers with 2 attendants. It can be armed with
two side-mounted rocket pods with seven 2.67 in (68 mm) rockets each
and a 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine-gun pack on each side and an
aft-firing machine-gun. Three IAI-201 were lease-operated by the
Israeli AF during the Yom Kippur war in October 1973.
The IAI-202 Arava was a development flight tested between mid-1976
and Spring 1977, and this one-off prototype (4X-IAO) has flown about
75 hours. It featured a wet wing with 1,600 lb (726 kg) additional
fuel, PT6A-36 engines, increased length and most distinctively dual
Whitcomb winglets. The performance proved general equal to the
standard Arava, but the maximum take-off weight increased by 2,000 lb
In all 90 Aravas were build and delivered to Argentina,
Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Mexico,
and Nicaragua, mostly used in the military role.