IAI F-21A Lion – #2, VFMT401 Aggressor Sqn, US Marines 1988
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Out of stock
Falcon models 1/72 scale FA729002: Israel Aircraft Industries F-21A Lion (Kfir C2) #2 of VFMT401 Aggressor Squadron, US Marines between 1985-88 in disruptive camouflaged livery. Complete with optional undercarriage positions, opening canopy and display stand. This famous aircraft is an essential addition to any diecast aviation collection.
The Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir (Hebrew: “Lion Cub”) is an Israeli-built all-weather, multirole combat aircraft based on a modified French Dassault Mirage 5 airframe, with Israeli avionics and an Israeli-made version of the General Electric J79 turbojet engine.
The project that would ultimately give birth to the Kfir can be traced back to Israel’s need for adapting the Dassault Mirage IIIC to the specific requirements of the Israeli Air Force (IAF).
The all-weather, delta-winged Mirage IIICJ was the first Mach 2 aircraft acquired by Israel from then close ally France, and constituted the backbone of the IAF during most of the 1960s, until the arrival of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and, most importantly, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, by the end of the decade. While the Mirage IIICJ proved to be extremely effective in the air-superiority role, its relatively short range of action imposed some limitations on its usefulness as a ground-attack aircraft. Thus, in the mid-1960s, at the request of Israel, Dassault Aviation began developing the Mirage 5, a fair-weather, ground-attack version of the Mirage III. Following the suggestions made by the Israelis, advanced avionics located behind the cockpit were removed, allowing the aircraft to increase its fuel-carrying capacity while reducing maintenance costs. By 1968, Dassault had finished production of the 50 Mirage 5Js paid for by Israel, but an arms embargo imposed upon Israel by the French government in 1967 prevented deliveries from taking place. The Israelis replied by producing an unlicensed copy of the Mirage 5, the Nesher, with technical specifications for both the airframe and the engine obtained by Israeli spies. Some sources claim Israel received 50 Mirage 5s in crates from French Air Force, while the AdA took over the 50 aircraft originally intended for Israel.
The Kfir entered service with the IAF in 1975, the first units being assigned to the 101st “First Fighter” Squadron. Over the following years, several other squadrons were also equipped with the new aircraft. The role of the Kfir as the IAF’s primary air superiority asset was short-lived, as the first F-15 Eagle fighters from the United States were delivered to Israel in 1976.
The Kfir’s first recorded combat action took place on November 9, 1977, during an Israeli air strike on a training camp at Tel Azia, in Lebanon. The only air victory claimed by a Kfir during its service with the IAF occurred on June 27, 1979 when a Kfir C.2 shot down a Syrian MiG-21.
By the time of the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982 (Operation Peace for Galilee) the IAF was able to use both its F-15s and F-16s for air superiority roles, leaving the Kfirs to carry out unescorted strike missions. Shortly afterwards, all IAF C.2s began to be upgraded to the C.7 version, with enhanced weight performance, making the Kfir more suitable to its new fighter-bomber role. During the second half of the 1990s, the Kfirs were withdrawn from active duty in the IAF, after almost twenty years of continuous service.
Israel Aerospace Industries announced in August 2013 it will offer pre-owned Kfir fighter jets to foreign customers, with a 40-year guarantee. Unit price is reported to be $20 million. A few Eastern European and Latin American countries have expressed interest, Israel’s Globes business daily reported. By October 2013, Israel Aerospace Industries was in “very advanced negotiations” with at least two air forces interested in the Kfir Block 60. An aircraft can be delivered within one year, with two squadrons to be sold in two to three years. The Block 60 is offered with the Elta EL/M-2032 AESA radar with open architecture avionics to allow a customer to install other systems. The sensor provides an all-aspect, look-down/shoot-down performance in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, with the capability to simultaneously track up to 64 targets. The J79 has been overhauled to zero flight hours, and would need replacement after 1,600 hours. The Argentine Air Force is in negotiations with Israel for 18 Kfir Block 60 fighters as a possible alternative to another deal for 16 ex-Spanish Mirage F1 fighters.