Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kfir fighter Jet Aircraft

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 Mach 2 aircraft acquired by Israel, and constituted the backbone of the IAF during most of the 1960s, until the arrival of the A-4 Skyhawk and, 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 Aviation began 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.

Operational history

The Kfir entered service with the IAF in 1975, the first units being assigned to the renowned 101st "First 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 Eagle fighters from the United States were 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 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, 1979 when 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.

Specifications (Kfir C.2)

General characteristics

• Crew: One
• Length: 15.65 m (51 ft 4.25 in)
• Height: 4.55 m (14 ft 11.5 in)
• Wing area: 34.80 m² (374.60 sq ft)
• Empty weight: 7,285 kg (16,060 lb)
• Loaded weight: 10,415 kg (22,961 lb)

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