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IAI Kfir

Multi-role fighter

IAI Kfir

Currently the IAI Kfirs remain in service only as a reserve in Israel

 
 
Country of origin Israel
Entered service 1975
Crew 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 15.65 m
Wing span 8.22 m
Height 4.55 m
Weight (empty) 7.28 t
Weight (maximum take off) 16.5 t
Engines and performance
Engines 1 x IAI General Electric J79-J1E turbojet
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 52.89 / 83.4  kN
Maximum speed 2 440 km/h
Combat radius 882 km
Armament
Cannon 2 x DEFA 553 30 mm cannon
Missiles Shafrif 2 and Python 3 air-to-air missiles, AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-65 Maverick air-to ground missiles
Bombs GBU-13 guided bombs, CBU-52/58 and TAL-1/2 cluster bombs, Mk 82/83/84 free fall bombs
Other LAU-3A/20A/32A rocket launchers

 

   France's embargo of Mirage 5J fighters in 1967 forced Israel to establish an indigenous aircraft industry. This led directly to an unlicenced copy of the Mirage III as the Nesher. The Nesher was developed by Israel Aircraft Industries into the canard-equipped Kfir (lion cub). Integration of the new US-supplied J79 engine required total redesign of the rear fuselage and a cooling inlet in the dorsal fin. The new forward fuselage was extended to house avionics, including the Elta 2001B ranging radar and a comprehensive weapons delivery and navigation suite. The prototype was flown in 1973 and production Kfir C.2s entered service in the fighter-bomber role with the IDF/AF in 1975.

   The tandem two-seat Kfir TC.2 was developed as a weapon-system trainer and EW (electronic warfare) platform. Some 185 C.2s and TC.2s were built, including 12 C.2s exported to Ecuador in 1982, and another 11 to Colombia in 1988-89. By 2020 Columbia operated a total of 23 Kfirs. Both customers also received to Kfir TC.2s. Ecuador's Kfirs clashed with Peruvian fighters during border disputes in 1995 and, along with Mirage F1s, have made three confirmed aerial kills. Virtually all surviving Israeli Kfirs were upgraded to Kfir C.7 and TC.7 standards from 1983. These have two additional hardpoints, further avionics improvements and have what are, effectively, HOTAS cockpits.

   Kfirs remain in service only as reserves in Israeli and possibly equip up to five squadrons. One of theexport customers was Sri Lanka which acquired Kfir C.2s (6 units) and TC.2s (2 units) from Israel in 1996. Sri Lankan Kfirs have been used in offensive actions against the Tamil Tiger rebel group.

 

Variants

 

   Kfir C.1 was an initial production variant.

   F-21A Lion is a US military designation of the upgraded Kfir C.1. A total of 25 upgraded Kfirs were leased to the US Navy and US Marine Corps. These fighters were used for an aggressor role in the US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program. The F-21A was retired from the US Navy service in 1988 and from US Marine Corps service in 1989.

   Kfir C.2 is an upgraded version with a number of aerodynamic improvements. It entered service in the fighter-bomber role with the IDF/AF in 1975.

   Kfir TC.2 is a two seat trainer variant.

   Kfir C.7 is an upgraded variant. It used an improved J79-GE-J1E engine, which generated more thrust. This allowed to add two more hardpoints under the air intakes and carry more weapons. Improved avionics was fitted and in-flight refueling capability was added. Most, if not all, of the Kfir C.2s were upgraded to this standard.

   Kfir TC.7 is a two seat trainer variant.

   Kfir C.9 was a version proposed to Argentina. It was powered by a French Altar 9K50 engine. However eventually Argentina placed no orders and the project was cancelled. Components developed for the C.9 were used to upgrade the South African Mirage IIIs. This led to the South Africa's Atlas Cheetah.

   Kfir C.10 was an export variant. It was also referred as the Kfir 2000. This aircraft fitted with Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar that allowed delivery of precision guided munjition. Also the Kfir C.10 had improved avionics. As a result surplus Israeli Kfir airframes were made available for export. This version has been exported to Columbia and Ecuador. Some Ecuadorian Kfirs have been upgraded to Kfir CE configuration with Elta EL-2034-5 radar.

   Kfir TC.10 is a twin-seat trainer. It was delivered to Columbian Air Force.

   Kfir C.12 is a version for Columbian Air Force without the Elta EL/M-2032 radar. This version was more suitable for ground attack.

   Kfir Tzniut is a reconnaissance version, developed from the Kfir C.2.

   Kfir Block 60 is the latest version. It is a further upgrade of the C.10 fitted with Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar. This version was proposed to Argentina, Bulgaria and Columbia. In 2014 it was announced that IAI plans to relaunch production of the Kfir Block 60 for export customers. At that time the Argentinean Air Force planned to acquire 14 new Kfirs to replace its ageing Dassault Mirage III and Mirage V fighters. However the deal was not finalized due to funding problems. Interestingly in 2015 Argentina retired all of its Mirage fighters without replacement due to extreme funding shortages. Once the Argentinean Air Force was one of the most powerful air arms in South America. However after decades of decline the Argentinean Air Force nearly ceased to exist.

   Kfir NG. The designation NG stands for "Next Generation". It is a further upgrade that was first publicly revealed in 2019. This upgrade is being offered for current operators of the Kfir, including Columbia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka.

 

 

 
 
IAI Kfir

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IAI Kfir

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IAI Kfir

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