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The Last Of The Kfirs Are For Sale
by James Dunnigan
August 23, 2013

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.


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