A multi-role fighter that entered service in 1976 and was a mainstay of the IAF for many years.

The Kfir is one of the best examples of the 'evolutionary' approach to the development of fighters - an approach which has had impressive results in the history of modern military aviation. The first member of the Mirage family - the IIIC - was an excellent interceptor and air superiority fighter in its time, but had limited attack capability. Dassault's answer to this challenge was the development of the Mirage V, in accordance with Israeli specifications - but the French embargo on the sale off arms to Israel and its neighbors following the Six Day War kept the Mirage Vs from being delivered.

The IAI, with the IAF's enthusiastic backing, decided to develop improved models of the plane, that would meet Israel's needs. The first tests were conducted in late 1968, and it quickly became apparent that the Mirage 5's chief drawback was its power plant - the French Atar 9 engine - which provided relatively low thrust, compared to the large amount of fuel it consumed.

In order to improve the plane, its engine had to be replaced with a better one, and the engine chosen was General Electrics J79 jet engine. Implanting it in the Mirage required that certain changes be made in the engine's configuration: different devices within the engine were modified, the intakes were enlarged, the engine was encased with a titanium heat shield and the planes rear fuselage was shortened. After the prototype proved successful, the fuselage's aerodynamics were improved and a pair of winglets was placed above and to the front of the main wings, in a 'canard' configuration.

All in all, over 100 Kfirs were built, of the Kfir C2, Kfir C7 and double-seated TC2 Kfir models.
The kfir is not a leading plane, and was not meant to be so upon entering service, as th IAF entered the F-15 planes at the same time, which were considered to be the best in the world.


In Action
The first Kfir was handed over to the IAF in front of a large audience that had assembled for the ceremony at Israel Aircraft Industries' plant on the eve of Israel's Independence Day in 1975. The Kfirs that rolled out of the production line were first assigned to the famed 'First Fighter' Squadron, which had a tradition of being home to Heyl Ha'avir's first-line planes (from the Avia Messerschmitt, through the Spitfire, Mustang and Mystere, to the Mirage III). They were also assigned to a fighter squadron that had been established before the 1956 'Kadesh' Operation, and had been deploying Howards, Mosquitos, Mystere IVAs and Skyhawks. In the years that followed, the Kfirs saw service in a number of different IAF squadrons.

The Kfir was given its first chance to prove its mettle on November 9th 1977. Kfirs were sent to attack Tel Azia, a terrorist training base in Lebanon, and carried out their task with great success.

In 1979 an 'air war' began in the skies over Lebanon. The Syrians no longer contented themselves with sending out ground troops, and began to make their presence felt in the air.

On June 27th the first dogfight took place. On that day, F-15s and Kfirs were assigned to cover other planes that were attacking terrorist targets between Lake Kar'un and the port of Sidon. In the dogfight that ensued, five Syrian MiG-21s were shot down, and the Kfir registered its first kill - the only one to date.
In the next attacks against Lebanon, from the Litani Operation up to 'Peace for the Galilee', the Kfirs participated actively and proved their ability for pinpoint strikes at targets including bridges, structures and gun emplacements, for which they made use of their sophisticated systems. The Kfir was deployed in Operation 'Accountability' (1995) as well, and used against dozens of terrorist targets.

The Kfir registered success abroad, as well. It has been sold to several countries, and was even leased to the US Navy and Marine Corps for use in their 'Aggressor' Squadrons, where its excellent performance in aerial combat and low operating costs made it an ideal choice for helping American pilots train against a simulated enemy threat.
Primary Role
Single seat multi-task fighter 
Wingspan: 8.22 m 
Length: 15.55 m 
Height: 4.25 m 
Maximum speed: 2,285 kph
Service ceiling: 18,000 m 
Max. Range: 1,300 km 
Empty: 7,290 kg 
Max. loaded: 14,600 kg 
Power Plant
General Electric J79-GE-17 jet engine, 
  8,120 kg. thrust