February 14, 2008:
Colombia has bought
24 Kfir fighters from Israel. This 1980s vintage, 16 ton aircraft is based on
the French Mirage III, but much upgraded from the original 1970s design. It can
carry six tons of weapons. It can go as high as 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 built 185 of them, and still has
120 in storage. Israel has been trying to sell them as an inexpensive
alternative to jets of more recent vintage. It has two 30mm cannon 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. Apparently, Colombia will equip the 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. Delivery of the Kfirs won't be
until next year. Colombia bought 12 Kfirs C7s in 1989 (for about $15 million
each), and still has 11 in service. The new ones will be Kfir C10s, with a new
radar, that has a range of 140 kilometers (for air or ground targets.) This new
version will probably cost close to $20 million each.