- IAI Kfir
name = Kfir
caption = United States Navy F-21A Kfir aggressor
type = Fighter-bomber
national origin =
manufacturer = Israel Aircraft Industries
first flight = June, 1973
introduced = 1975
retired = 1996 (Israeli Air Force)
number built = 220+
status = Operational
unit cost = US$4.5 million.
primary user =
Israeli Air Force
more users =
United States Navy Colombian Air Force Sri Lanka Air Force
developed from =
variants with their own articles =
The Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir ( _he. כפיר, "Lion Cub") is an
Israeli-built all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft based on a modified Dassault Mirage 5airframe, with Israeli avionicsand an Israeli-made version of the General Electric J79turbojet engine.
The project that would ultimately give birth to the Kfir can be traced back to Israel's need for adapting the Dassault Mirage IIIC to the specific requirements of the
Israeli Air Force(IAF).
The all-weather, delta-winged Mirage IIICJ was the first
supersonicaircraft acquired by Israel, and constituted the backbone of the IAF during most of the 1960s, until the arrival of the A-4 Skyhawkand, most importantly, the F-4 Phantom II, by the end of the decade. While the Mirage IIICJ proved to be extremely effective in the air-superiority role, its relatively short range of action imposed some limitations on its usefulness as a ground-attack aircraft.
Thus, in the mid-1960s, at the request of Israel,
Dassault Aviationbegan developing the Mirage 5, a fair-weather, ground-attack version of the Mirage III. Following the suggestions made by the Israelis, advanced avionics located behind the cockpit were removed, allowing the aircraft to increase its fuel-carrying capacity while reducing maintenance costs.
By 1968, Dassault had finished production of the 50 Mirage 5Js paid for by Israel, but an arms embargo imposed upon the country by the French government in 1967 prevented Dassault from ever delivering the aircraft. The Israelis replied by producing an unlicensed copy of the Mirage 5, the Nesher, with technical specifications for both the airframe and the engine obtained by Israeli intelligence. [According to a number of sources, the Israelis had some covert collaboration from Dassault Aviation itself, going so far as to allow for two disassembled Mirage 5s to be smuggled into Israel in crates ("see the
IAI Nesherarticle for details").]
The development of this aircraft has been attributed to covert action on the part of
Mossad. Mossad was able to acquire the plans for the Mirage III, which were used directly in the design process of the Kfir aircraft series. [ [http://www.cloakeddagger.com/page/?Mossad_Ops Cloaked Dagger ] ] The designers at IAI then began work on the project to improve upon the Mirage III, deciding first to find a replacement engine.
Two powerplants were initially selected for trials—the
General Electric J79 turbojetand the Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan. In the end, the J79 was selected, not the least because it was the same engine used on the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, which the Israelis began to acquire from the United Statesin 1969, along with a license to produce the J79 themselves. The J79 was clearly superior to the Atar 09, providing a dry thrust of 49 kN (11,000 lbf) and an afterburning thrust of 83.4 kN (18,750 lbf).
In order to accommodate the new powerplant on the Mirage III's airframe, and to deliver the added cooling required by the J79, the aircraft's rear fuselage was slightly shortened and widened, its air intakes were enlarged, and a large air inlet was installed at the base of the vertical stabilizer, so as to supply the extra cooling needed for the afterburner. The engine itself was encased in a titanium heatshield.
An improved prototype of the aircraft, with the name "Ra'am" ("Thunder"), made its first flight in June 1973. It had an extensively revised cockpit, a strengthened landing gear, and a considerable amount of Israeli-built avionics. The internal fuel tanks were slightly rearranged, their total capacity being increased to 713 gallons.
There were unconfirmed reports that a number of the original Mirage IIICs, re-engined with the J79 and given the name "Barak" ("Lightning"), took part in the
Yom Kippur Warof 1973, but some sources point out that there is no real evidence that these aircraft ever existed. [ [http://www.aeroflight.co.uk/waf/israel/iafnouse.htm "Aeroflight. World Air Forces"] . Retrieved Mar 25, 2006.]
The Kfir entered service with the IAF in 1975, the first units being assigned to the renowned 1st Fighter Squadron. Over the following years, several other squadrons were also equipped with the new aircraft. The role of the Kfir as the IAF's primary air superiority asset was short-lived, as the first
F-15 Eaglefighters from the United Stateswere delivered to Israel in 1976. The Kfir's first recorded combat action took place on November 9, 1977, during an Israeli air strike on a terrorist training camp at Tel Azia, in Lebanon. The only air victory that the Kfir achieved during its service in the IAF occurred on June 27, 1979when an Israeli Kfir C.2 shot down a Syrian MiG-21.
By the time of the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982 ("Operation Peace for Galilee") the IAF was able to use both its F-15s and F-16s for air superiority roles, leaving the Kfirs for carrying out unescorted strike missions. Soon after all the IAF's C.2s began to be upgraded to the C.7 version, which enhanced the performance of the aircraft as a fighter-bomber, the Kfirs' new role in the IAF's order of battle.
During the second half of the 1990s, the Kfirs were withdrawn from active duty in the IAF, after almost twenty years of continuous service.
The Kfir in foreign service
Since the J79 turbojet engine as well as much of the technology inside the Kfir are produced in Israel under U.S. license, all export sales of the Kfir are subject to prior approval from the U.S. State Department, a fact that has limited the sale of the Kfir to foreign nations.
As of 2006, the IAI Kfir has been exported to
Colombia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka.
Twenty-five modified Kfir-C1s were leased to the
US Navyand the US Marine Corpsfrom 1985to 1989, to act as adversary aircraft in dissimilar air combat training ( DACT). These aircraft, designated F-21A Kfir, had narrow-span canard foreplanes and a single small rectangular strake on either side of the nose which considerably improved the aircraft's manoeuvrability, and handling at low speeds.
The 12 F-21 aircraft leased to the US Navy, painted in a three-tone blue-gray "ghost" scheme, were operated by VF-43, based at NAS Oceana. In 1988 they were returned and replaced by the F-16N. The 13 aircraft leased to the
United States Marine Corpswere operated by VMFT-401at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. In addition to the blue-gray painted aircraft, the USMC also had some F-21s painted in Israeli colors and desert "flogger" schemes. These aircraft were replaced by F-5Es when the F-21s were returned in 1989.
Kfirs are also used by ATAC, a civilian company that provides fleet tactical aircraft and services to the US military. ATAC provides airborne tactical training, threat simulation, and research & development. They are based in Newport News, VA and also operate the SAAB Draken.
As a result of a trade agreement between
Colombiaand Israel in 1989the Colombian government bought a batch of twelve ex-IAF Kfir C.2s and one TC.2, which were delivered to the Colombian Air Force("FAC") in 1989- 1990. Since then, all the C.2s have been upgraded to the C.7 variant.The "FAC" Kfirs have been widely used in ground-attack missions during counter-insurgency operations against Colombian guerrillas. Colombian Kfirs are armed with Python 3 IR-homing AAMs.As of 2004 two aircraft had been lost in accidents.
2008Colombia signed a deal with the Israeli government for more 24 ex-IAF Kfir aircraft. These aircraft will most probably be upgraded by Israel Aerospace Industriesto C.10 standard. ["http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1202246330416&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFullrgb "Colombia to buy Israeli combat jets"] ["http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBGQNqTc9" "Colombia Purchases 24 Kfir Bomber Jets From Israel"]
1981, Ecuadorand Israel signed a sales agreement for ten refurbished ex-IAF Kfir C.2s and two TC.2s, which were delivered to the Ecuadorian Air Force("FAE") in 1982- 1983. The Kfirs formed the 2113rd Squadron ("Lions") of the FAE's 21st Fighter Wing, based at Taura AFB, on the Ecuadorian western lowlands.
The "FAE" Kfirs went into action during the
1995 Cenepa Warbetween Ecuador and Peru. Relying on its fleet of subsonic A-37Bs for low-level ground-attack missions on Peruvian positions, the Ecuadorian Air Force held back its Mirage F.1s and Kfir C.2s for use as escorts and interceptors. On February 10, 1995a Kfir C.2 shot down a Peruvian Air ForceCessna A-37B with a Shafrir 2 IR-homing AAM.
1996, with tensions still running high between Ecuador and Peru, the Ecuadorians acquired four additional Kfirs (three C.2 and one TC.2) after securing approval from the U.S. State Department.
In 1998, with its aging squadron of
SEPECAT Jaguarfighter-bombers about to be withdrawn from active duty, Ecuador began talks with Israel for the sale of a new batch of eight Kfirs. Fearing an escalation of the arms race in South America - Peru had recently acquired 18 MiG-29s and 18 Su-25s from Belarus- the United States blocked the deal.Fact|date=February 2008 As an alternative, Ecuador and Israel signed an agreement in 1999 for the delivery of two Kfir C.10s and for the conversion of an undisclosed number of the "FAE's" original C.2s to the C.10 version, referred to in Ecuador as Kfir CE, featuring a Helmet Mounted Display System, and armed with Python 3 and Python 4 IR-homing AAMs.
By 2005, Ecuador had lost four Kfirs, including one TC.2, due to accidents since the aircraft entered service in 1982.
Sri Lanka Air Force(SLAF) acquired six Kfir C.2s and a single TC.2 from Israel in 1995-1996. A further nine aircraft had been added to the inventory by 2005, including four C.2s and four C.7s acquired in 2000. Currently the SLAF operates two TC.2s, two C.7s and eight C.2s by the No. 10 Fighter Squadron. The SLAF has extensively used their Kfirs to carry out attacks against targets of the LTTErebels during the current conflict in Sri Lanka. [ [http://in.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2007-02-20T172950Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-288394-2.xml&archived=False] Dead link|date=March 2008]
* Kfir-C1 : Basic production variant.
** F-21A Kfir : 25 upgraded Kfir-C1 aircraft were leased to the USN and USMC for an aggressor role and were designated F-21A. These aircraft had been modified and included canards on the air intakes. These canards greatly improved the aircraft maneuverability and slow speed control, and were adopted on later variants.
* Kfir-C2 : An improved C1 that featured a lot of aerodynamic improvements. Changes included "dogtoothed" leading edges on the wings, small strakes under the nose and a larger sweep angle of the canards.
* Kfir-TC2 : A two-seat training variant developed from the C2. It has a longer and lowered nose to improve the pilot's view.
* Kfir-C7 : Vastly modified variant. The very most if not all C2 aircraft were modified to this variant. It included an improved J79-GEJ1E engine that offered more 1,000 lbs of thrust at full afterburner (and as a result increasing the Maximum Take-off Weight by 3,395 lbs), 2 more hardpoints under the air intakes, better avionics such as the Elta EL/M-2021B radar,
HOTASconfigured cockpit and inflight refueling capability.
* Kfir-TC7 : A two-seat training variant developed from the C7.
* Kfir-C10 : A variant developed especially for export. The most important change is the adaptation of the Elta EL/M-2032 radar. Other changes include HMD capability and two 127*177mm MFD's. This variant is also known as Kfir CE and Kfir 2000.
Fuerza Aérea Colombiana;ECU
Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana;ISR
Sri Lanka Air Force;USA
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
pecifications (Kfir C.2)
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
span main=8.21 m
span alt=26 ft 11.5 in
length main=15.65 m
length alt=51 ft 4.25 in
height main=4.55 m
height alt=14 ft 11.5 in
area main=34.80 m²
area alt=374.60 sq ft
empty weight main=7,285 kg
empty weight alt=16,060 lb
loaded weight main=10,415 kg
loaded weight alt=22,961 lb
max takeoff weight main=14,670 kg
max takeoff weight alt=32,340 lb
engine (jet)=IAl Bedek-built General Electric J-79-J1E
type of jet=
number of jets=1
thrust main=52.89 kN
thrust alt=11,890 lb st
afterburning thrust main=83.40 kN
afterburning thrust alt= 18,750 lb st
max speed main=2,440 km/h
max speed alt=1,516 mph
ceiling main=17,700 m
ceiling alt=58,000 ft
range main=770 km
range alt=480 mi
climb rate main=233.3 m/s
climb rate alt=45,930 ft/min
guns=2× Rafael-built DEFA 553 30 mm cannons with 140 rounds per gun
rockets=assortment of unguided air-to-ground rockets including the
Matra JL-100drop tank/rocket pack, each with 19× SNEB68 mm rockets and 66 US gallons (250 liters) of fuel
AIM-9 Sidewinders OR Python-series AAMs; 2× Shrike ARMs; 2× AGM-65 MaverickASMs
bombs=13,415 lb (6,085 kg) of payload on five external
hardpoints, including bombs such as the , Pavewayseries of LGBs, Griffin LGBs, TAL-1 OR TAL-2 CBUs, BLU-107 Matra Durandal, reconnaissance pods or Drop tanks
Dassault Mirage III
* Dassault Mirage 5/50
Dassault Mirage F1
List of fighter aircraft
* "Maquinas de Guerra - Enciclopedia de las Armas del Siglo XX". Planeta-De Agostini, Madrid, 1984. (Aerospace Publishing Ltd., London, 1983). ISBN 84-7551-292-5.
* Terry Gander, Christopher Chant, Bob Munro, "Collins/Jane's Combat Aircraft". Harper Resource, 1995. ISBN 0-00-470846-6.
* Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd., " [http://www.iai.co.il/Default.aspx?docID=22950&FolderID=22948&lang=en www.iai.co.il] ".
* Federation of American Scientists, " [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/row/kfir.htm www.fas.org] ".
* Milavia, " [http://www.milavia.net/aircraft/kfir/kfir.htm wwww.milavia.net] "
* Air Combat Information Group, " [http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_12.shtml www.acig.org] ".
* Daniel H. Green, " [http://www.danshistory.com/ www.danshistory.com] ".
* Greg Goebel, " [http://www.vectorsite.net/avmir3.html#m6 www.vectorsite.net] ".
* " [http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/aircraft/kfir/Kfir.html www.Israeli-Weapons.com] ".
* " [http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/attack/mirage5/ www.Aerospaceweb.org] "
* "Mirage. James Follett". Novel describing the clandestine operation by an Israeli civilian to steal the engineering drawings of the Mirage from a Swiss sub-contractor in the late 60's. ISBN 0-7493-0003-5
* cite book
publisher=Histoire et Collections, Paris
title=The Mirage III, 5, 50 and derivatives from 1955 to 2000
series=Planes and Pilots 6
* cite book
last=Pérez San Emeterio
publisher=Editorial San Martin, Madrid
title=Mirage. Espejismo de la técnica y de la política
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher4/f21.html Israel Aircraft Industries F-21A Kfir]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.