Skip to comments.Not an upgrade – rebirth (Israeli Kfir fighter)
Posted on 01/17/2014 2:39:52 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Upgrading military aircraft fixed wing and rotary is a common operation performed all over the world. You take an old platform, reinforce the fuselage and wings, install some new systems and it can fly for many more years.
But what Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is currently doing with its old Kfir fighter aircraft is an exception.
The Kfir (Lion Cub) fighter is a single-seat multitask fighter built by IAI. The aircraft was first built for the Israeli air force (IAF). The first Kfir was delivered to the IAF in 1975, and entered into service in 1976.
The fighter was sold to various countries, and around 27 were leased to the US Navy and Marine Corps and for use as aggressor-role fighters.
Kfirs are in service with the air forces of Sri Lanka, Ecuador and Colombia. As I reported yesterday in Flight International, Argentina is now evaluating the purchase of the latest version the Kfir Block 60.
The Kfir was born in the 1960s, during the Honeymoon of defence ties between France and Israel. First flight was performed in 1973, but in the mid-1990s the Kfir was phased out.
The first upgrades of the Kfir were made a few years later, and the version was dubbed C-10, or Kfir 2000.
IAI manufactured approximately 200 Kfir fighters, and most found their way to a southern IAF base, where the low humidity helped to keep the grounded aircraft in a good condition.
What is happening now in the market is a result of a few facts: shrinking defence budgets, the understanding that not every air force needs a fifth-generation fighter and above all the ability of the Kfir airframe to keep flying with very advanced systems.
One IAI source told me the upgraded Kfir offers many of the capabilities of fourth-generation aircraft such as the F-16 Block 52, Eurofighter, Rafale and MiG-29.
So, after its Lavi fighter programme was terminated in 1987 due to heavy pressure from Washington, IAI is now actually operating a fighter aircraft assembly line.
The stripping/rebuilding/upgrading line is full with Kfir fighters that have been brought from desert storage and are being readied for the next customer.
The Kfir on offer now is the Block 60. This version will be equipped with an Elta EL/M-2052 AESA radar, full network capability using the IAI Link 16 datalink, open architecture, a glass cockpit and all the systems that were supplied with previous versions. Among these is the fourth generation of the Rafael Litening targeting pod.
According to all indications the new assembly line will be very busy in the coming years. What will come out of the big hangar is a fighter aircraft that was born more than 40 years ago, but has something in its genes that enables a new, full life in fact, better than its first one.
- See more at: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/ariel-view/2014/01/upgrade-exactly-reborn/#sthash.W7u5M61n.dpuf
... meanwhile the USAF is turning F-16A’s into target drones. Seems like a waste of a capable airframe. Why they don’t design/build a cheap target drone based on a cruise missile turbofan is beyond me.
Had those for decades, called the BQM-76. Used to cost less than $200k IIRC.
Problem with them is they cannot do anything close to true fighter flight dynamics, but a cruise missile can't either.
Good question might be, do the remote pilots actually try to fly like a fighter, or just drone along waiting to get shot down?
Did they finally run out of Phantoms?
Obviously. You can see a lot of the Mirage III and V in it.
I thought Kfir or Kafir meant infidel or unbeliever? I always figured it was Israel’s little joke for getting under the muzzies’ skin.
Kaffir is infidel in Arabic.
Kfir is lion cub in Hebrew.
The Kfir is an interesting platform. Imagine a French Mirage III with an American J79 (F4 Phantom) jet engine with Mach 2+ speed, configured for long range ground attack.
This is in no way, shape, or form any type of air-superiority fighter.
It can get to a fight quickly. It can carry small ordnance.
It can be activated/produced quickly.
It is a real war machine, meant to be used and discarded. If it gets into trouble with enemy air defenses, its one card to play is its escape speed.
Smart to keep these jets in storage, ready for reactivation when a numerical threat appears.
Also smart to sell them at a profit to foreign customers.
One would expect to see their “ideal” use as long-range support of distant Israeli commandos on the ground. These would be the jets attacking enemy armor and personnel formations...not flying air cover above the envelope, but down in the trenches.
Picture an Iranian bunker under Israeli commando assault, and the ground attack role would likely be filled by expendable Kfirs.
Kaffir is infidel in Arabic.
Kfir is lion cub in Hebrew.
I’m sure the alliteration was intentional on part of the Israelis.
I think that the Chinese J-10 is based on the Lavi fighter that the Israelis were pressured into abandoning by the USA.
How the Chinese used it as the basis for their J-10 is one thing I would like to know more about, but just look at the pictures and you will see the Lavi looks like the spitting image of the J-10
I think Israel could redesign the Lavi maybe change the skin into a more stealth shape instead of spending the wacko per plane amount for the J35 constantly delayed and ever more expensive fighter.
Israel needs lots of fighters, but since they have superior pilots than the Muzzies have they don’t need such a push button plane as the J35. Besides how many can they afford?
The loans Israel gets must be paid back with interest, and Per copy the J35 is far away the costliest fighter in history.
Well, you don’t need to imagine it-the Kfir is a souped up Mirage-V!!
Yes, at least ones that were economically repairable to flyable condition.
The F-16As being turned into target drones are near or at their maximum airframe life, so they aren't economically viable as rebuilt fighters, either.
Besides, General Dynamics is still churning out brand new F-16s, so why even attempt to strip and rebuild an old, worn out airframe?