First flown in June 1973, the Kfir (lion cub, and sometimes wrongly called the Kfir-C1), is essentially the airframe of the Dassault Mirage III/5 series mated to the General Electric J79-GE-17 turbojet rated at 11,870 lb st (52.80 kN) dry and 17,900 lb st (79.62 kN) with afterburning, and fitted with a suite of Israeli avionics. The Kfir entered only limited production (27 aircraft), a mere two squadrons being equipped with the type from 1974 pending the introduction of more advanced derivatives with much improved combat capability. In other respects, the Kfir differs from the Kfir-C7 in details such as its maximum disposable warload of 8,818 lb (4000 kg), internal fuel capacity of 879.7 US gal (732.5 Imp gal; 3330 liters) supplementable by up to 1,241.6 US gal (1,033.9 Imp gal; 4700 liters) of external fuel 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, normal take-off weight of about 31,996 lb (14500 kg), and maximum level speed 'clean' of 1,260 kt (1,451 mph; 2335 km/h) or Mach 2.20 at 36,000 ft (10975 m). The type is apparently fitted with the Martin-Baker Mk MJ6 zero/zero ejector seat, and the aircraft were later converted to the initial Kfir-C2 standard with small canard foreplanes. In 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 Israel is currently considering the viability of re-engining these aircraft (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 developed for the cancelled IAI Lavi multi-role fighter. A possible customer is South Africa.
Kfir-C2 : Introduced in 1976 after a first flight in 1974, the Kfir- C2 is a much developed version of the Kfir designed to keep the type viable against all conceivable threats well into the 1990s. The improved model is distinguishable from the Kfir by its dogtoothed outer wing panels, small undernose strakes and, most importantly of all, swept delta canard foreplanes, and the result is a warplane with formidable combat capabilities plus good field performance thanks to the sustained manoeuvrability and control effectiveness resulting from the aerodynamic developments. The type 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. In other respects, the Kfir-C2 differs from the Kfir-C7 in details such as its 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, 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, empty weight of 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, 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. Production up to 1980 totalled 185 aircraft 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 aircraft still in Israeli service have been upgraded to Kfir-C7 standard.
Kfir-TC2 : This is the combat-capable two-seat conversion trainer variant of the Kfir-C2. The type was first flown in February 1981, and 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. The Kfir-TC2 is generally similar to the Kfir-C2 except for its length of 53 ft 8 in (16.36 m) including probe and its wheel base of 14 ft 9 in (4.50 m), and retains the full combat capability of the single- seat model.
Kfir-C7 : This is the definitive single-seat version introduced in 1983 and produced by converting Kfir-C2s with a specially adapted version of the J79-GE-J1E turbojet with some 1,000 lb st (4.45 kN) more afterburning power in combat situations, and supplied with fuel from an internal capacity of 856.7 US gal (713.4 Imp gal; 3243 liters). The type also has a more advanced ejector seat, two extra hardpoints, and a number of advanced features including 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 inflight refueling. Maximum take-off weight is increased by 3,395 lb (1540 kg), but radius is improved and, more importantly, thrust-to-weight ratio is enhanced to a marked degree.
Prime contractor: Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd.
Nation of origin: Israel
Function: Multi-role fighter
In-service year: 1972 as C1
Wing span: 8.22 m / 27 ft
Length: 15.65 m / 51 ft 5 in
Height: 4.55 m / 14 ft 11 in
Weight: 16,060 lb empty / 36,376 lb max. take off
Engine: One General Electric J79-J1E afterburning turbojet, 18,750 lb thrust
Speed: 2,440 km/h / 1,516 mph at high altitude
Max. Range: 1300+ km
Ceiling: 58,000 ft
Armament: Two DEFA 553 30mm cannons with 140 rounds each, plus up to 13,415 lb including AAMs, cluster bombs, free-fall bombs, laser guided bombs, Durandal anti-runway bombs, AGM-65 Maverick ASMs, napalm tanks, ECM pods and drop tanks