Falcon Models FA729003 US Navy IAI F-21A Kfir Multi-Role Aircraft - "#28," VF-43 "Challengers", 1985-89 [Aggressor Scheme] (1:72 Scale)
"Where do we get such men?"
- Rear Admiral George Tarrant, from the feature film "The Bridges at Toko-Ri"
The Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir ("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 development of this aircraft has been attributed to covert action on the part of Mossad. After General De Gaulle embargoed the sale of arms to Israel, the IAF feared that in the future it would no longer have an upper hand over its regional adversaries that were being re-equipped with more advanced Soviet aircraft. The bulk of the Israeli Air Force had been locked into the Mirage but was quickly facing problems because Mirage numbers were somwhat depleted after the Six-Day War. They did not have a better alternative than the Mirage. Mossad was able to acquire the plans for the Mirage III, which were used directly in the design process of the Kfir aircraft series.
Two powerplants were initially selected for trials, the General Electric J79 turbojet and the Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan. In the end, the J79 was selected, not least because it was the same engine used on the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, which the Israelis began to acquire from the United States in 1969, along with a license to produce the J79 themselves. The J79 was clearly superior to the original French Atar 09, providing a dry thrust of 49 kN (11,000 lbf) and an afterburning thrust of 83.4 kN (18,750 lbf).
In order to accommodate the new powerplant on the Mirage III's airframe, and to deliver the added cooling required by the J79, the aircraft's rear fuselage was slightly shortened and widened, its air intakes were enlarged, and a large air inlet was installed at the base of the vertical stabilizer, so as to supply the extra cooling needed for the afterburner. 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 Ra'am B ("Thunder") the Ra'am A was the Nesher, made its first flight in June 1973. 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 total capacity being increased to 713 gallons.
There were unconfirmed reports that a number of the original Mirage IIICs, re-engined with the J79 and given the name Barak ("Lightning"), took part in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, but some sources point out that there is no real evidence that these aircraft ever existed.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a US Navy F-21A Kfir Multi-Role Aircraft that was attached to VF-43 "Challengers" during 1985-89.
Wingspan: 4-1/2 inches
Length: 8-1/4 inches
Release Date: September 2013
Historical Account: "Lion Kings" - Twenty-five modified Kfir C.1s were leased to the US Navy and the US Marine Corps from 1985 to 1989, to act as adversary aircraft in dissimilar air combat training (DACT). These aircraft, designated F-21A Kfir, had narrow-span canard foreplanes and a single small rectangular strake on either side of the nose which considerably improved the aircraft's maneuverability and handling at low speeds.
The 12 F-21 aircraft leased to the US Navy, painted in a three-tone blue-gray "ghost" scheme, were operated by VF-43, based at NAS Oceana. In 1988 they were returned and replaced by the F-16N. The 13 aircraft leased to the United States Marine Corps were operated by VMFT-401 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. In addition to the blue-gray painted aircraft, the USMC also had some F-21s painted in Israeli colors and desert "flogger" schemes (named because they were to represent the schemes often worn by Warsaw Pact MiG-23 "Floggers". The Kfir was utilized because they both shared the common characteristic of being very fast (Mach 2+) and fast-accelerating aircraft with relatively poor maneuverability. The MiG-23 was targeted as the "enemy" aircraft because at this time the MiG-23 was being introduced in very large numbers, and was a very capable aircraft compared to earlier Soviet types). These aircraft were replaced by F-5Es when the F-21s were returned in 1989 (although this left the training units without any aircraft capable of accurately simulating the Mach 2+, and fast-accelerating MiG-23).