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Lavi Israeli Aircraft Industries
Mulit-Role Fighter Prototype

The Lavi (young lion) program began in the late 1970s when IAI agreed to develop a new multi-role fighter to replace Israel's aging A-4 Skyhawk and Kfir combat aircraft. Seeing a need for some 300 planes, including 60 two-seat combat-capable trainers, the Lavi was envisioned primarily as a close air support and tactical attack platform with a secondary air superiority capability. Although Israel was successful in obtaining significant development funds from the United States, nearly all design work was done in Israel. The only major foreign involvement came from Pratt & Whitney, subcontracted to develop the engine, and Grumman, which assisted in the design and manufacture of the composite wing.

The resulting design was largely similar to the American F-16, though slightly smaller and lighter. The Lavi also featured a delta wing and canards with a fly-by-wire control system for superb maneuverability. Furthermore, IAI incorporated an advanced set of avionics systems including glass-cockpit displays, a helmet-mounted targeting system, a heads-up display (HUD), and a multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar. One unique aspect of the design was the decision to develop the two-seater variant first. The space occupied by the backseat was then used for avionics and systems in the single-seat model.

Though the Lavi appeared to be progressing well and two prototypes had completed over 80 flights, political and economic factors began to take their toll on the project. The US had supplied some 40% of the development costs of the new fighter, but refused to allow export licenses for certain pieces of technology. As a result, unit cost began to spiral beyond what the US or Israel had anticipated. In addition, the capabilites of the Lavi were becoming increasingly similar to the F-16, and the US Congress feared the Lavi would interfere with export sales of the American fighter. As a result, Congress withdrew all future funds for Lavi development during the mid-1980s. The Israeli government quickly realized it could not proceed without this support and was forced to cancel the Lavi in August 1987.

Of the five prototypes then completed or under construction, three were sold for scrap and one was given to a museum. However, the third prototype, B-03, was completed using internal IAI funds. This aircraft served as a two-seat technology demonstrator with a complete fit of advanced avionics. The Lavi TD was used for corporate marketing until the mid-1990s when it was converted into a non-flyable ground test vehicle. This marketing effort saw great success in China, and IAI was contracted to provide assistance to Chengdu in developing the very similar J-10 fighter.

Last modified 20 September 2009

First Flight (Lavi B-01) 31 December 1986
(Lavi B-02) 30 March 1987
(Lavi TD B-03) 25 September 1989
Service Entry

did not enter service

CREW: (one-seat) one: pilot
(two-seat) two: pilot, weapons officer


estimated at $15 to $17 million

Wing Root unknown
Wing Tip


Length 47.75 ft (14.57 m)
Wingspan 28.75 ft (8.78 m)
Height 15.67 ft (4.78 m)
Wing Area 355.08 ft (33.05 m)
Canard Area

58.55 ft (5.45 m)

Empty 15,500 lb (7,030 kg)
Normal Takeoff 22,025 lb (9,990 kg)
Max Takeoff 42,495 lb (19,275 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 5,995 lb (2,720 kg)
external: 9,180 lb (4,165 kg)
Max Payload

16,005 lb (7,260 kg)

Powerplant one Pratt & Whitney PW1120 afterburning turbojet (derived from the F100 turbofan)
Thrust 13,530 lb (60.18 kN)
20,620 lb (91.72 lN) with afterburner

Max Level Speed at altitude: 1,220 mph (1,965 km/h) at 36,000 ft (10,975 m), Mach 1.85
at sea level: 620 mph (995 km/h)
Initial Climb Rate 49,955 ft (15,240 m) / min
Service Ceiling 49,955 ft (15,240 m)
Range 1,150 nm (2,130 km)
g-Limits +9

Gun one 30-mm DEFA Type 552 (Improved) cannon
Stations eleven external hardpoints and two wingtip rails
Air-to-Air Missile Python 3
Air-to-Surface Missile AGM-65 Maverick, IIIAS
Bomb laser-guided bombs, conventional bombs
Other ECM pods, rocket pods

Lavi B-01 First aerodynamic prototype without a full avionics fit, a tandem two-seat aircraft with the second seat filled by test equipment
Lavi B-02 Second aerodynamic prototype without a full avionics fit, a tandem two-seat aircraft with the second seat filled by test equipment, on display at the IDF/AF Museum
Lavi TD B-03 Third prototype completed as a two-seater with a full avionics fit using components of the B-01 and B-02, also fitted with a modified wing featuring enlarged elevons, used as a flying technology demonstrator and later as a ground testbed
Lavi B-04 Fourth prototype, not completed
Lavi B-05 Fifth prototype, not completed
Lavi Planned production model available in one-seat and two-seat versions; 300 planned but cancelled
Lavi 2000 Proposed advanced model, not developed







  • Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Weapons: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Weapon Systems from 1945 to the Present Day. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1999, p. 271, IAI Lavi.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 529, IAI Lavi.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 206, IAI Lavi TD.

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