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IAI Kfir (F-21 Lion)
Role: ground attack, fighter
Builder: Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI)
Variants: C1, C2, TC2, C7, TC7, C10, F-21A
Operators: Israel, Colombia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, US Navy, USMC
The Israeli Kfir (kfir is Hebrew for lion cub) is developed for ground
attack missions. IAI combined the delta wing Mirage III/5 airframe with the
J79 afterburning turbojet. Compared to the French Mirage III and Mirage 5
it has a more powerful engine, bigger engine air intakes, a longer nose,
revised cockpit, Israeli avionics and systems and a fin air inlet located at the
lower front end of the fin. The first production versions were designated Kfir-C1.
25 upgraded C1s were leased to the US Navy and US Marine Corps to act
as aggressor in advanced air combat training. The C1s were modified adding narrow-span canard foreplanes above each air intake and a
small rectangular strake either
side of the nose behind the ranging radar. These additions greatly improved its
combat manoeuvrability and slow speed handling.
These modified C1s were renamed F-21A Lion under the
US Tri-Service system. Because of the low operating cost and
good manoeuvrability the aircraft proved itself well in its new role.
Kfir-C2 was the designation for the next variant, consisting of a dogtoothed outer wing panels,
small undernose strakes, and larger swept delta canards.
These aerodynamic changes improved turn and take-off performance and improved handling at
all speeds according
New avionics were introduced, including a new ranging radar, twin-computer flight control system,
multi-mode navigation and weapons delivery system, central air data computer and HUD. The C2 variant
was the production standard.
Two-seat Kfir-TC2 trainers feature a lengthened and lowered nose for improved view.
The longer nose houses the avionics displaced from the C2's spine and is fitted with small
Kfir-C2/TC2 aircraft were upgraded to C7/TC7 standard. The C7 has a specially adapted version
of the J79-GEJ1E with some 1,000 lb (454 kg) more afterburning thrust. The type has two extra
hardpoints below the intake ducts and a number of advanced features including capability for the carriage and use of
smart weapons, Elta EL/M-2021B pulse-Dopplar radar, a revised cockpit with more sophisticated
electronics and HOTAS (Hands On Throttel And Stick) controls and provision for inflight-refueling.
Maximum take-off weight is increased by 3,395 lb (1,540 kg), but combat radius and thrust-to-weight
ratio are improved to a marked degree. The principal Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) system is the
Elta EL/L-8202 advanced self-protection jammer.
The latest upgrade is the Kfir-C10 standard, the upgrade is developed for export. It features
a new Elta EL/M-2032 multimode radar, capability to use a HMD
(Helmet Mounted Display) and Python IV air-to-air missiles and
two 127x177mm Multi-Function Displays produced by Astronautics.
Brazil looked at leasing 12 Kfir-C10s to replace the Mirage IIIEBR until
the arrival of the F-X program aircraft, however no deal materialized.
After several delays on a decision, the F-X program was cancelled in 2005.
In June 2005, Brazil announced the selection of second-hand Mirage 2000Cs
as an interim solution.
Early Kfir C2
US Navy F-21A Lion
Kfir C1 (no canards)
TC7 Trainer with extended nose
Pair of Israeli Kfir-C7s