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Single seat multi-role strike fighter

The Nesher was produced by IAI, Israel's major aircraft manufacturer. Nesher is Hebrew for "condor."

The story behind the Nesher goes like this: The Israeli Air Force was looking to procure new fighter/bomber aircraft, and so they contacted France's Dassault, requesting a modified version of the Mirage III fighter that was already in IAF use. In 1967, Dassault flew Israel's new plane, the Mirage 5, and the IAF was so impressed that they placed a firm order for fifty.

Then came the Six Day War, when France placed an arms embargo on Israel. Charles de Gaulle refused to allow the export of the Mirage 5 orders to Israel, and instead sent them to the French Air Force, leaving the IAF with a major gap in its fighter fleet.

So Israel, doing what it does best, sent covert ops to Switzerland and stole the blueprints of the Mirage 5's engine, getting airframe plans from moles within Dassault. IAI was given the blueprints, and under a heavy veil of secrecy, began developing a copy of the Mirage 5—the Nesher—in a hangar at Ben Gurion Airport. The first of sixty Neshers were delievered to the IAF in 1971, and eventually four squadrons of Neshers were in place.

At first, many criticized the Nesher's design for being inadequate in air-to-air combat. The Yom Kippur War shut them all up, when one Israeli squadron downed fifty-nine MiGs with only four Neshers lost. Curiously enough, the air force of Libya was also flying Mirage 5's during the war, and so Israel had to paint large yellow triangles on all their Neshers to keep their pilots from getting confused.

The Nesher stayed in the IAF's inventory until 1981: many were sold to Argentina (under the name "Dagger") and fought the Royal Air Force during the Falklands War. Many of Israel's Neshers were replaced by F-16 Fighting Falcons: the Nesher design was also developed into a new Israeli plane, the IAI Kfir.

Its top speed is Mach 2.1, and it can carry up to 4,200 kg of disposable stores on six hardpoints.

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