Kfir is an Israeli-built all-weather, Israel Aircraft Industriesmulti-role combat aircraft based on a modified Dassault Mirage 5 airframe, with Israeli avionics and an Israeli-made version of the General Electric J79 turbojet engine.
The IAI Kfir is one of the best known examples of the developmental approach to the design and construction of combat aircraft, which consists in the modernization of well-proven airframes to face the challenges posed by an increasingly sophisticated air-combat environment.
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).
By 1968, Dassault had finished production of the 50 Mirage 5Js paid for by Israel, but an arms embargo imposed upon this 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 (Eagle), with technical specifications for both the airframe and the engine obtained by the Israeli intelligence.
In order to accommodate the General Electric J79 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 fin, so as to supply the extra cooling needed for the afterburner.
The engine itself was encased in a titanium heatshield.
The much improved Kfir C.2, revealed in 1976, was the first full-standard version of the aircraft.
Benefiting from the operational experience obtained with the first variant, the C.2 featured delta canard foreplanes mounted on the air intakes, narrow "strakes" along the tip of the nose, and extended "dogtooth" outer wing panels.
These aerodynamic modifications gave the Kfir better all-around manoeuvrability, reduced landing and take-off distance, and superior handling at low speeds. All C.2s were also equipped with a Martin-Baker Mk.10 ejection seat, and seven weapons pylons.
In 1983, IAI began to upgrade the Kfir C.2s/TC.2s to a new variant, the Kfir C.7/TC.7, which carried a modified version of the J79-GE-17E powerplant, with an additional 4.45 kN (1,000 lb st) of afterburning thrust, and an enhanced thrust-to-weight ratio. The Kfir C.7 featured a modernized HOTAS cockpit, with new avionics, including the Elta EL/M-2021B pulse-Doppler radar and the Elta EL/L-8202 advanced electronic jammer, plus guided weapons carrying capability, two additional hardpoints below the intake ducts (for a total of nine), and provision for in-flight refueling. With a maximum take-off weight increased by 1,540 kg (3,395 lb), as well as an improved combat radius, the Kfir C.7 was a much better ground attack aircraft than its predecessor.
The emphasis given on the improvement of the strike capabilities of the Kfir signaled the new role assigned to the aircraft in the IAF's order or battle during the 1980s, as the F-15s and F-16s took over the air-superiority and interception missions.
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.
Specifications (Kfir C.2)
(This text was adapted from http://www.wikipedia.org/ )(GFDL)
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