The project that would ultimately give birth to the Kfir can be traced back to Israels need for adapting the Dassault Mirage IIIC to the specific requirements of the Israeli Air Force. While the Mirage IIICJ proved to be effective in the air-superiority role. 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. By 1968, Dassault had finished production of the 50 Mirage 5Js paid for by Israel, 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, the Kfir programme originated in the quest to develop a more capable version of the IAI Nesher, which was already in series production. The main and most advanced type of available to the IAF was the Mirage. Two powerplants were initially selected for trials, the General Electric J79 turbojet, the J79 was clearly superior to the original French Atar 09, providing a dry thrust of 49 kN and an afterburning thrust of 83.4 kN. The engine itself was encased in a titanium heatshield, a two-seat Mirage IIIBJ fitted with the GE J79 made its first flight in September 1970, and was soon followed by a re-engined Nesher, which flew in September 1971. An improved prototype of the aircraft, with the name Raam B and it had an extensively revised cockpit, a strengthened landing gear, and a considerable amount of Israeli-built avionics. The internal fuel tanks were slightly rearranged, their capacity being increased to 713 US gal. 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 IAFs primary air superiority asset was short-lived, the Kfirs 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 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, 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, unit price is reported to be $20 million. A few Eastern European and Latin American countries have expressed interest, 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 with open architecture avionics to allow a customer to install other systems
United States Navy F-21A Kfir Adversary
Ecuadorian Air Force Kfir CE (C.10). Note the refuelling probe and the characteristic longer nose of this variant.