Kfir Fighter - Israel

The Israel Kfir ("lion cub" in Rabbinic) fighter is the airframe of the Dassault Mirage III/5 series mated to the General Electric J79-GE-17 turbojet, and fitted with a suite of Israel avionics.

The manufacturer is Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. The Kfir was first flown in June 1973, it entered only limited production (27 aircraft), a mere two squadrons being equipped with the type from 1974. The thrust of J79-GE-17 is 11,870 lb st (52.80 kN) dry and 17,900 lb st (79.62 kN) with afterburn. The basic Kfir is also called Kfir C1.

Soon the basic Kfir have been converted into the Kfir C2 type.

Kfir C2

The basic Kfir was soon fitted with the Martin-Baker Mk MJ6 zero/zero ejector seat, with other changes it came the Kfir C2 type with the small canard foreplanes. First flight in 1974, the Kfir C2 is a much developed version of the Kfir. The C2 type is distinguishable from the Kfir by its dogtoothed outer wing panels, small undernose strakes and swept delta canard foreplanes. These changes offered C2 type better combat capabilities and good flight performance. The C2 is fitted with Elta EL/M-2001 or EL/M-2001B ranging radar, and has the Rafael Mahat or IAI WDNS-141 weapon-delivery system.

The Kfir C2`s maximum disposable load of 12,731 lb (5775 kg), powerplant of one IAI Bedek Division (General Electric) J79-J1E turbojet rated at 11,890 lb st (52.89 kN) dry and 17,900 lb st (79.62 kN) with afterburning. The external fuel load of up to 6,779 lb (3075 kg) in three 449.1, 343.4, 217.9, 158.5 or 132.1 US gal (374, 286, 181.5, 132 or 110 Imp gal; 1700, 1300, 825, 600 or 500 liter) drop tanks. The empty weight is 16,060 lb (7285 kg). Normal take-off weight of 20,701 lb (9390 kg) as an interceptor with two Shafrir AAMs and 50% internal fuel, or 25,580 lb (11603 kg) as an interceptor with two Shafrir AAMs and two drop tanks, or 31,459 lb (14270 kg) for a CAP with two Shafrir AAMs and three drop tanks, or 32,341 lb (14670 kg) for an attack mission with two Shafrir AAMs, seven 500 lb (227 kg) bombs and two drop tanks. The maximum take-off weight of 35,714 lb (16200 kg), radius of 187 nm (215 miles; 346 km) on a hi-hi-hi interception mission with two Shafrir AAMs and two 132.1 US gal (110 Imp gal; 500 liter) drop tanks, or 379 nm (434 miles; 699 km) on a CAP with two Shafrir AAMs and three 343.4 US gal (286 Imp gal; 1300 liter) drop tanks, or 414 nm (477 miles; 768 km) on a hi-lo-hi attack mission with seven 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, two Shafrir AAMs and two 343.3 US gal (286 Imp gal; 1300 liter) drop tanks, and g limit of +7.

Up to 1980, C2 has a totalled 185 production including the Kfir TC2 two-seat variant. And the later version of the Kfir C2 with the improved EL/M-2001B radar in a longer nose, enlarged canard foreplanes, and extended leading edges on the outer 40% of the main wing's span. Most of the Kfir C2 type still in Israel service have been upgraded to C7 standard.

Kfir TC2

Kfir TC2 is the combat-capable two-seat conversion trainer variant of the C2, first flown in February 1981, full attack capability remained. The main distinguishing feature of the type is the visibility-improving droop of its nose section, which is lengthened by 2 ft 9 in (0.84 m) to accommodate the second cockpit.

Kfir C7

Kfir C7 is the definitive single-seat version developed in 1983 and produced by converting Kfir C2s. The C7s have the J79-GE-J1E turbojets with some 1,000 lb st (4.45 kN) more afterburn in combat situations, the thrust-to-weight ratio is enhanced. And supplied with fuel from an internal capacity of 856.7 US gal (713.4 Imp gal; 3243 liters). The type also has better Martin-Baker Mk IL10P zero/zero ejector seat, two extra hardpoints, and capability for the carriage and use of 'smart' weapons, Elta EM/L-2021B pulse-Doppler fire-control radar, a revised cockpit with more sophisticated avionics and HOTAS controls, and provision for airborne refueling. Maximum take-off weight is increased by 3,395 lb (1540 kg) as well as radius is improved.

The weapons are: two 30 mm DEFA 552 cannon with 140 rounds per gun in the underside of the inlets; Up to 6085 kg (13,415 lb) of disposable stores carried on nine hardpoints (five under the fuselage with the centerline unit rated at 2,205 lb/1000 kg and the two flanking tandem pairs each at 2,205 lb/1000 kg, and four under the wings with the inner two units rated at 2,205 lb/1000 kg and the outer two units each at 331 lb/150 kg).

the wide assortment of weapons that can be carried included the Shafrir 2, Python 3 and AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range AAMs, Luz-1 and AGM-65 Maverick ASMs, AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard ARM anti-radar missiles, 'Paveway' laser-guided bomb, GBU-15 HOBOS optronically guided bomb, 3,000, 2,000, 1,000, 750, 500 and 250 lb (1361, 907, 454, 340, 227 and 113 kg) free-fall or retarded bombs, cluster bombs, napalm bombs, and multiple launchers for 2.75 in (70 mm) unguided rockets.

Wing span 26 ft 11.6 in (8.22 m)
Foreplane span 12 ft 3 in (3.73 m)
Wing area 374.60 sq ft (34.80 sq m)
Foreplane area 17.87 sq ft (1.66 sq m)
Length 51 ft 4.25 in (15.65 m)
Height 14 ft 11.25 in (4.55 m)
wheel track 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)

Fuel Empty about 16,060 lb (7285 kg)
Normal take-off 22,961 lb (10415 kg)
Maximum take-off 36,376 lb (16500 kg)
Internal fuel 5,670 lb (2572 kg)
External fuel up to 8,216 lb (3727 kg)
Maximum level speed 1,317 kt (1,516 mph; 2440 km/h) or Mach 2.30 at 36,000 ft (10975 m) or 750 kt (863 mph; 1389 km/h) or Mach 1.13 at sea level
Ferry range 1,744 nm (2,000 miles; 3232 km) with one 343.4 US gal (286 Imp gal; 1300 liter) and two 449.1 US gal (374 Imp gal; 1700 liter) drop tanks
radius 419 nm (482 miles; 776 km) on a hi-hi-hi interception mission with two Shafrir AAMs, one 217.9 US gal (181.5 Imp gal; 825 liter) and two 343.4 US gal (286 Imp gal; 1300 liter) drop tanks, or 476 nm (548 miles; 882 km) on a CAP of 1 hour with two Shafrir AAMs, one 449.1 US gal (374 Imp gal; 1700 liter) and two 343.4 US gal (286 Imp gal; 1300 liter) drop tanks, or 640 nm (737 miles; 1186 km) on a hi-lo-hi attack mission with two 800 lb (363 kg) and two 400 lb (181 kg) bombs, two Shafrir AAMs, and one 343.4 US gal (286 Imp gal; 1300 liter) and two 449.1 US gal (374 Imp gal; 1700 liter) drop tanks
Climb Maximum rate at sea level 14000 m (45,930 ft) per minute; climb to 50,000 ft (15240 m) in 5 minutes 10 seconds with full internal fuel and two Shafrir AAMs
Service ceiling 75,000 ft (22860 m) in a zoom or 58,000 ft (17680 m) at stabilized supersonic speed
G +7.5

Kfir TC7

Kfir TC7 is tandem two-seat variant of the C7, produced by converting Kfir TC2s. Since the full electronic suite is remained, the TC7 can handle the two-seat EW role. The TC7`s length is 53 ft 8 in (16.36 m) including probe, empty equipped and maximum take-off weights of about 16,314 and 36,299 lb (7400 and 16465 kg), maximum level speed 'clean' of 1,146 kt (1,320 mph; 2125 km/h) or Mach 2.00 at 36,000 ft (10975 m), and combat radius of 640 nm (737 miles; 1186 km) on a hi-lo-hi attack mission.

The Kfir is operated by Colombia, Ecuador, Israel, Philippines and USA. The photo shows the export version Kfir CE.

April 1985, the US Navy signed a three-year lease for 25 of the aircraft (with small canard foreplanes but no armament as 12 F-21A machines for the US Navy and 13 for the US Marine Corps to operate in the USA as 'aggressor' aircraft for the training of US Navy and US Marine Corps pilots in dissimilar air combat maneuvers. The last of the aircraft was returned in April 1989. And the South Africa developed their Cheetah fighter based on Kfir in 1980s.

Now about 20 Kfir C7s remained serving in IAF and 120 C2/C7 stored up . Israel is currently considering the viability of re-engining the C2 type (together with some of the country's currently mothballed force of 80 or more older Kfir C2s) with the SNECMA Atar 9K-50 turbojet, rated at 11,056 lb st (49.18 kN) dry and 15,873 lb st (70.61 kN) with afterburning, to get round the possibility of an American embargo on the export of aircraft with the J79 engine. Israel also plans to offer these re-engined aircraft with an updated avionics suite including the Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar developed from the EL/M-2023 radar, the later developed for the cancelled IAI Lavi multi-role fighter. A possible customer is South Africa.

To seperate frome the Mirage fighters in the Arabian country, Kfir always have a black-yellow delta painting on its tail.

Israel is shrinking its military, along with its defense budget. To deal with these changes the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is selling off older equipment, much of it from semi-retired status (kept in reserve for an emergency) rather than stuff being used regularly. Among the items being offered are probably the last Kfir jet fighters (25 of them) available for sale.

Israel built 185 Kfirs and began using them in 1975. Kfir is a 16 ton aircraft and is based on the French Mirage III but is much upgraded from the original 1970s design. It can carry six tons of weapons. It can go as high as 24,000 meters (75,000 feet), has a max speed of 2,400 kilometers an hour, and a normal operating radius of 700 kilometers. Sorties normally last 2-3 hours. Israel retired its Kfirs in the late 1990s, and most of the remaining ones were put in in storage. Israel has been selling them as an inexpensive alternative to jets of more recent vintage. Kfirs have two 30mm cannons built in. It's only equipped to use short range, heat seeking air-to-air missiles, but can also deliver laser and GPS guided smart bombs as well as Maverick and anti-radiation missiles. Colombia equipped its Kfirs with electronic monitoring pods to track the movements of leftist rebels and drug gangs and then use smart bombs to attack targets in remote areas.

Colombia bought 13 Kfirs C7s in 1989, for about $15 million each and still had 12 in service by 2009, when they bought another 13. The 2008 Kfirs were C10 models that had a new radar with a range of 140 kilometers against air or ground targets. This new version cost close to $20 million each and later received some more upgrades to become the Kfir C12. Colombia also upgraded its older Kfir C7s to the C10 standard. Ecuador and Sri Lanka also bought surplus and upgraded Kfirs. Ecuador used its Kfirs successfully in a brief 1995 war with Peru, and a decade later Sri Lanka used Kfirs in the final battles of a civil war. The U.S. also leased 25 Kfirs during the 1980s, for use in combat training. Israel could have sold more Kfirs but because it used an American made engine, Israel had to get American permission for any export sales.

Israel Aerospace Industries is seeking to market its Kfir fighter jet, originally designed for the Israeli Air Force, to foreign countries at the price of $20 million a piece, complete with a 40-year manufacturer’s guarantee. Potential buyers include Eastern European countries joining NATO and Latin American and Asian air forces seeking a cheaper alternative to top of the line F-16 jets, Israel’s Globes business daily reported, citing IAI executives.

The air forces of Colombia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka all fly reconditioned Israeli Kfir jets, currently.

“It took us just three years to deliver an entire squadron for the Colombia Air Force, and at a third of the price of a fourth-generation single engine jet fighter. The upgraded Kfir provides just as good an answer as fourth-generation jets, and in some cases, even better,” IAI Lahav Division general manager Yosef Melamed told Globes.

Israel has produced hundreds of Kfir jets since the 1970s, but unnamed foreign military sources cited by the newspaper said the Israeli Air Force now only uses F-15 and F-16 fighter jets in active service.

The jets are currently being used for test flights by Israel and the US Air Force, which uses them to simulate the enemy in exercises.

Before being sold on to foreign governments, the jets are updated with new avionics and powerful radars developed by IAI unit Elta Systems, diversified armaments, updated electronic warfare systems, and air-to-air refueling capability, Globes said. They also get new wiring and a cockpit equipped for day and night operations and poor weather conditions.

“The Kfir we’re supplying today has state-of-the-art computers developed just in the past two years, which enable better performance that fourth-generation planes with obsolescent computers. Thanks to our innovative up-to-date avionics, an Israeli pilot who flew the Kfir in the 1980s wouldn’t be able to do very much with it today. It’s simply a different plane,” said Oren Aviram, head of marketing the Kfir for IAI.

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J-20 J-15 J-10B J-31 J-11 WZ-10 Xianglong UAV

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