August 1999 (Nimrod MRA4) Home October 1999 (Blackburn Buccaneer)

Aircraft of the Month for September 1999

IAI Lavi

The Lavi (Young Lion) was originally developed as a multirole fighter for the Israeli air force before program cancellation saw the prototypes used as technology demonstrator airframes. Despite promising results, the Lavi program was cancelled in 30 August 1987, mainly due to budget restrictions, US opposition and the availability of extra, cheaper F-16s. The main reason for its cancellation, however, was that USA strongly opposed the whole program; they wanted to sell their fighters to Israel.
The Lavi strongly resembles an F-16A/B with canard-delta layout; it has an F-16-style intake, tail, and fuselage. It is powered by a single PW1120 afterburning turbojet, which was derived from the F100. It features an Elta multimode radar, a HUD, and HOTAS controls.

In the early 1980s IAI began developing a multirole fighter to meet an IDF requirement for around 300 aircraft. The program go-ahead was given in 1980 and FSD began in October 1982. The first flight was of B-1, a Lavi TD two-seater (test avionics filled up the rear seat, however), and occured on 31 December 1986. After the Lavi was canceled, IAI converted the Lavis into technology demonstrators and testbeds for indigenous avionics and systems. The third prototype (B-3), a Lavi TD, was completed as a technology demonstrator, but with pilots in both seats. It first flew on 25 September 1989.

Chengdu J-10
A Lavi appeard to be housed on a chinese airfield in US satillite photos. Israel denied lending any Lavis to China, so many people beliebe the Lavi may form the basis for China's Chengdu J-10 multirole fighter, which is due to enter service early next decade. The J-10 will serve on China's first carrier, due to be launched in 2010. The J-10 is believed to be powered by a 122.6kN (27,650 lb) with afterburning Saturn AL-31F turbofan, the same engine on the Su-27.

IAI Lavi Specifications
TypeMultirole attack aircraft
PowerplantOne 55.5kN (15,500 lb) dry and 82.7kN (18,600 lb) w/ afterburning P&W PW1120 afterburning turbojet (a turbojet development of the F100)
AccommodationPilot only, or two in tandem Lavi TD
ArmamentOne internal 30 mm cannon. Maximum of 7250 kg (16000 lb) of weapons. Two wingtip pylons for AAMs. Four underwing and seven underfuselage hardpoints can carry ASMs, bombs, LGBs and rockets. The two inner wing hardpoints can carry fuel tanks.
Max speedMach 1.85 (1969km/h; 1063kt)
Combat radius1110km (600nm).
Minimum Takeoff Run305m (1000ft).
G Limit+9; TD +7.2
Empty7030kg (15,500 lb)
MTOW18,370kg (40,500 lb)
Wingspan8.78m (28ft 10in)
Length14.57m (47ft 10in)
Height4.78m (15ft 8in)
Wing area33.1m² (335.8sq ft)

Uncommon Aircraft: IAI Lavi

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