The Lavi Project of Israel


Israel may be a small country within the Middle East. However, the country's military, especially the Air Force, has the region's leading combat power. In the1950s, the Israeli army often used weapons purchase from Europe, mainly Britain and France. The Lavi Project of Israel

The Lavi Project of Israel

Since the 1960s, the Israeli Air Force has served as the center of its defense power, bringing a great advantage to Israel on the battlefield. The Israeli air force's dominance of the Middle East stems from its basic combat training. The weakness of the enemies and the flexible approach to weapons design and procurement.

In 1967, France's arms embargo on Israel created a difficult situation for Tel Aviv. Over the years the Israelis have tried many strategies to strengthen airpower with aircraft bought from the United States and even made aircraft themselves. Like the Soviet Union or the United States, Israel believes that an Air Force that owns a variety of aircraft will best meet operational requirements.

This led to the event of the Lavi during the 1980s. A multi-role jet fighter to complement the F-15 Eagle and F-4 Phantom that Israel imported from the United States. Israel's Lavi had been equipped with some US-licensed technology. It seems like an F-16 with a modified wing design.


Life is not like a dream of developing a completely new and more advanced fighter jet than the F-16 required huge investment and the budget. For this aircraft was exhausted moreover contrary to the optimism of Lavi's export capabilities, the United States obviously would not allow Israel to export a fighter jet with important parts sourced from the US.

The Lavi Project of Israel

And a Lavi was created to compete with the F-16, making matters even more serious. In August 1987, Israel decided to stop the Lavi project, creating a demonstration of project participants. Political efforts to restore the project were also unsuccessful and Israel still had to import a large number of F-16 aircraft.

To date, only two Lavi prototypes have been completed in a total of five. One of the Israeli Air Force Museum at hatzerim Air Base and the other currently at the base of the Israeli aircraft industry group at the Ben-Gurion airport. The name of the aircraft the Lavi means a young lion. The Lavi Project of Israel

When the project began, the aircraft was planned to be a fourth-generation multi-role jet engine, acting as the mainstay of the Israeli Air Force. In total Israel spent up to $1.5 billion dollars on this project. 


The Israeli fighter had a length of 14.57 meters awing-span of 8.78 meters and a height of 4.78 meters, the empty weight was 7 tons and the maximum take-off weight was 19.2 tons. The uniqueness of its design was a mixture of a little, aero-dynamic, highly maneuverable aircraft with sophisticated electronic systems and therefore the ability to hold an outsized payload at high speed and over long distances.

Both single-seat and two-seat versions were developed of which the two-seat version was expected to combat-capable two-seat trainers. Lavi’s appearance was considerable similarities to the American F-16 fighters which were slightly smaller in size. Early on IAI decided to adopt a delta wing configuration of which the corporate was already conversant in through its work on the sooner Kfir which was paired with large, steerable canard situated forward of the wing.

The Lavi Project of Israel

The main wings were sweepback along with both their leading and trailing edges. The wingtips were designed for the installation of short-range air-to-air missiles AIM-9 Sidewinder or similar. The canard generated additional lift and positive control when at angles attacks. The Lavi Project of Israel

This design gave the aircraft great maneuverability but it also caused natural instability during the flight. To compensate the Lavi was equipped with sophisticated digital fly-by-wire systems that allow the aircraft to require advantage of this special wing design while eliminating this shortcoming.

The cockpit was located behind the long slender nose, under a large bubble-canopy, providing great visibility for the pilots. Under the cockpit was an engine air intake, took the form of a plane chin type scoop with a splitter plate, quite similar to the F-16. The long tubular fuselage offered extremely high aerodynamic efficiency.

A single exhaust was fitted at the tail with a single vertical fin above it and below it was two ventral fins. The undercarriage was a conventional arrangement with the nose will place aft of the intake and retracted rearwards, the lightweight main gear mounted on the fuselage.  The Lavi Project of Israel

The Lavi was equipped with a single Pratt & Whitney PW1120 fan jet engine capable of generating 91.5-kilonewton thrust with afterburner enabling the aircraft to reach a maximum speed of Mach 1.6. Lavi had a range of 3,700 kilometers, the service ceiling of 15, 240 meters, a rate of climb of 254 meters per second.

Compared to its contemporaries, the level of integration of avionics and electronics on Lavi was thought to be “more computerized than any other system in the world.” In addition to being the first fighter to employ fully digital flight controls, this fighter was also equipped with advanced pulse-Doppler radar. The Lavi Project of Israel

The avionics suite was almost entirely Israeli designed, and uses a modular design capable of adding upgrades through the Elbit ACE-4 mission computer. The primary mission for this aircraft was close air support and interdiction. 


It was armed with a single thirty-millimeter cannon and could carry over 7 tons of missiles and bombs on 11 hardpoints and to wingtips rails. Although a potential project, Israel's ambition was soon stopped due to financial difficulties and political factors from the United States.  The Lavi Project of Israel


In August 1987, Israel decided to end the Lavi project. It was reported that the Lavi project was shared with China to create the J-10 fighter, of course, China denied any involvement between J-10 and Lavi.

Despite the failure of the Lavi project, it was the premise for the Israeli aviation industry to have great success after that. Later, instead of pursuing building an airplane of its own Israel improved the fighters purchased from the United States. 

The F-15 I Thunder or F-16 ice storm has major upgrades to optimize them for Israeli requirements. The Israeli Air Force is also making improvements to make the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter better suited to its missions. The Lavi Project of Israel

Israel's aviation strategy depends on Israel's relationship with the United States. This is true both in the identity of the aircraft and in technical development. Fortunately for Israel, the relationship between the United States and this country will be maintained for a long time.

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