Israel Aerospace Industries is seeking to market its Kfir fighter jet, originally designed for the Israeli Air Force, to foreign countries at the price of $20 million a piece, complete with a 40-year manufacturer’s guarantee. Potential buyers include Eastern European countries joining NATO and Latin American and Asian air forces seeking a cheaper alternative to top of the line F-16 jets, Israel’s Globes business daily reported, citing IAI executives.
The air forces of Colombia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka all fly reconditioned Israeli Kfir jets, currently.
“It took us just three years to deliver an entire squadron for the Colombia Air Force, and at a third of the price of a fourth-generation single engine jet fighter. The upgraded Kfir provides just as good an answer as fourth-generation jets, and in some cases, even better,” IAI Lahav Division general manager Yosef Melamed told Globes.
Israel has produced hundreds of Kfir jets since the 1970s, but unnamed foreign military sources cited by the newspaper said the Israeli Air Force now only uses F-15 and F-16 fighter jets in active service.
The jets are currently being used for test flights by Israel and the US Air Force, which uses them to simulate the enemy in exercises.
Before being sold on to foreign governments, the jets are updated with new avionics and powerful radars developed by IAI unit Elta Systems, diversified armaments, updated electronic warfare systems, and air-to-air refueling capability, Globes said. They also get new wiring and a cockpit equipped for day and night operations and poor weather conditions.
“The Kfir we’re supplying today has state-of-the-art computers developed just in the past two years, which enable better performance that fourth-generation planes with obsolescent computers. Thanks to our innovative up-to-date avionics, an Israeli pilot who flew the Kfir in the 1980s wouldn’t be able to do very much with it today. It’s simply a different plane,” said Oren Aviram, head of marketing the Kfir for IAI.