In the late 1960s, the Israeli MilitaryAir Force was comprised primarily of the French built Dassault Mirage IIIfighter jet. However, the Israeli General Staff felt they needed to make somechanges to the basic specifications of this aircraft. The Mirage III provedvery effective in the air-superiority role, but the Israeli military determinedthey needed more of a ground-attack aircraft.Some of the sophisticated all weather fighting systems could beremoved to make room for increased fuel capacity for longer ground attackmissions. It would also help in reducing maintenance costs. This revisedaircraft would be known as the Mirage M. 5J and 50 Mirage 5Js were paid for byIsrael. But then in the summer of 1967 the Six Day War everything changed. Withthe start of the Six Day War, the French government imposed an arms embargo onDassault and the aircraft could not be delivered. The Israeli Military feltthat the Arab countries could gain the upper hand if something was not done anddone quickly. The Mossad stepped in, who launched a covert action and acquiredthe blueprints to the Mirage III, all 250,000 pages of them. It has gone downin history as one of the biggest espionages cases ever exposed. The actualfirst version built off of these plans was called the Nesher (Eagle) and builttotally in Israel. The biggest difference in the design was the modification toaccommodate the General Electric J79 turbojet the same engine used in the F-4Phantom. This more advanced power plant gave the aircraft far betterperformance than the older Mirage III. After numerous revisions andimprovements, the Kfir, which translates Lion Cub in Hebrew, finally enteredservice in 1975. Its role as the primary air superiority aircraft of theIsraeli Air Force was very short however. In 1976 Israel started to takedelivery of F-15 Eagles from the United States. They were used more for groundattack missions throughout their service life until 1990s when they werewithdrawn from active duty.
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