Sunday, 14 July 2019

Israel's Kfir jets going up against Sweden's Saab jets

CJ van der Ende

Israel's Kfir jets going up against Sweden's Saab jets - Israel News - Jerusalem Post

Colombia's Air Force is looking to upgrade their multi-role fighter jets

Sweden’s Saab is offering its Gripen fighter jets to the Colombian Air Force to replace its ageing fleet of Israeli-made Kfir combat aircraft.

Colombia is looking to upgrade its multirole fighters and according to reports in Jane’s, Saab offered Colombia 12 single-seat Gripen Es and 3 dual-seat Gripen Fs.

While IAI is offering the upgraded Kfir Next-Generation (NG), according to Jane’s other competition to replace the Kfir Block 60s currently flown by the Colombians includes Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon jets and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Manufactured at the Lahav Division of the Military Aircraft Group in Israel, the Kfirs are based on the French Mirage 5 planes which Paris refused to sell to Israel due to an arms embargo imposed by the government of  Charles de Gaulle.

While it is an Israeli-built jet, the Kfir had a short operational history with the Israel Air Force, entering service in 1975 and withdrawn from the IAF in the second half of the 1990s, just some twenty years later. 

Nonetheless the Kfir has been sold to the air forces of Sri Lanka, Colombia, Ecuador. The jets are also used by ATAC, an American civilian company that provides enemy staging and trials for the US Navy. 

The jets, designed as a versatile all-weather multi-role supersonic combat jet, can fly at an altitude of 30,000m with a maximum speed of 2,285 km/h and has a range of 1,300km. It has a maximum take off weight of 14,600kg and can carry several air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, bombs and other munitions.

Colombia first purchased Kfirs from IAI in 1989 and were widely used during counter-insurgency operations against Colombian militants. 

In November 2013 two Colombian Air Force IAI Kfirs intercepted Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-160 bombers that had entered Colombian airspace from Venezuela. The Russian jets had taken off from Simón Bolívar International Airport Venezuela and were flying to the Nicaraguan capital of Managua when they crossed into Colombia airspace over its San Andres y Providencia archipelago in the Caribbean Sea.

In 2017 IAI upgraded the Colombian Air Force’s Kfir jets, fitting the 22 jets with an expanded range of weapons and sensors as well as new model numbers.

The ceremony, which took place at the CACOM1 air base in Palanquero, Colombia  was attended by IAI's management team, representatives of Colombia's Ministry of National Defense, Colombia's Airforce commander, and the staff of Israel's Embassy in Colombia. 

General Carlos Eduardo Bueno, commander of Colombia's air force said at the time that "this project is of prime importance for Colombia's air force and is another great example of our long-standing collaboration with IAI including important integrations of key, challenging features. The combination of radar, communication and advanced technologies has made the Kfir squadron the leader that it is."

Also at the ceremony, IAI CEO Joseph Weiss said that the upgrades to the Colombian Kfir jets with cutting edge avionics, advanced weapon and self-protection systems, air refueling and other features, “make it one of the most efficient aerial war machines in the world.”

“IAI plans to keep the Colombian government and the Air Force as its close ally; we will continue our very successful collaboration, improve the systems and add new capabilities for our shared mission of keeping the Colombian Armed Forces as a force to be reckoned with,” he added.

Kfir NG

"I think the Kfir NG offers a huge advantage for Colombia," Melamed said. "There is no argument about the current capability of the Kfir, and the Kfir NG would provide a meaningful change. Colombia already has the infrastructure, training, simulators, and even ammunition for the aircraft so why would they want to spend two billion dollars on another aircraft?"

With the current Kfir Block 60 that the FAC operates featuring a 'zero-timed' airframe, system, sensor, avionics (comparable with the F-16 Block 52), and weapon enhancements, the Kfir NG adds a more powerful General Electric (GE) F414 engine (as already powers the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab Gripen E/F) in place of the outdated GE J79; an enhanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; improvements to the datalinks; and upgraded avionics. Another feature that is still in development is a redesigned aft-fuselage that will increase the aircraft fuel capacity. According to Melamed, this should double the Kfir's endurance. Source:

Saab Gripen E/F: Details 
F-21 Kfir/Kfir Block 60: Details

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