How an Israeli fighter turned into a Chinese J-10

Despite the more than favorable attitude of Western Europe and the United States, sanctions were imposed after the war against the Jewish state. According to its results, Israel occupied a number of neighboring territories, and this greatly did not suit the States and European countries that did not want to spoil relations with the Arab world. It so happened that Western countermeasures were added to the loud denunciations of the Israeli military of the USSR and its allies. In the late sixties, Europe categorically refused to cooperate with Israel in the military sphere. The Americans took the same position, although informally they continued to maintain very close contacts with this country.

Of course, the Israelis did not like this state of affairs. Having defeated the Arab coalition in 1967, Israel was sure that this was far from the last war with the Arab countries, and the latter, sooner or later, would want revenge. So later it happened. In order to be ready for the upcoming wars in Israel, they decided to "import substitute." And thoroughly, so as not to depend on the changing mood of the "partners". To be more precise, the import substitution provided for the development of its own aircraft manufacturing, tank building and shipbuilding. Of the three areas, the Israelites achieved the greatest success only in creating tanks, and in the other two achieved very modest results.

Thanks to the successful actions of the scouts, the Israelis managed to steal the documentation of the French Mirage III fighter, on the basis of which the IAI (Israel Aircraft Industries) group developed and launched the Kfir fighter. He was a good airplane, but his technology was far behind modern. Meanwhile, Israel reasonably believed that the Arab countries would very soon receive the latest aircraft from the USSR, in comparison with which Kfir would look, to put it mildly, unconvincing. Therefore, a next-generation aircraft was required, in no way inferior to the promising developments of both Western countries and the Soviet Union.

Israel did not have a lack of good engineering personnel or intelligence data, as well as purposeful leaders. When it was decided to develop an Israeli national fighter, things went very controversially. Ovadia Harari was appointed to lead the project, under whose leadership more than 30 options for the future fighter were considered. Among them are variants of a single and twin engine aircraft, with Pratt-Whitney F100, Rolls-Royce RB-199 and General Electric A-404 engines.

As a result of numerous discussions, it was decided to develop a single and single engine fighter capable of speeds of about 2.4 Mach with a ceiling of 22, 800 meters and a load of 7, 000 kg. The plane was named Arie (Leo), although initially it had the unofficial designation Super Kfir.

One of the highlights of the aircraft was the digital control system, which made the Arie aerodynamically unstable and with very good maneuverability. The small size of the fighter and the placement of missiles in the internal compartments made it possible to achieve low radar visibility. The pilot received an excellent overview thanks to the teardrop-shaped flashlight, and a helmet-mounted sight was also developed for him.

In the midst of the work on Arie, it turned out that the Americans did not intend to strictly observe the embargo regime and offered the F-15 and F-16 fighters to the Israelis. The Israelis liked both planes very much, in addition, unofficial channels were involved, and there was an undecided struggle. The result of all this was the closure of the Arie project and a reorientation to American technology.

However, the project of the national fighter was not thrown into the basket. Although the Israeli Air Force received American aircraft, they did not want to be 100% dependent on another state. Therefore, the Arie project was continued, but under a new name - Lavi. The leadership was entrusted to them by the same Ovadiya Harari, who, together with his team, managed to create as much as a direct competitor to the F-16. The first flight Lavi made on December 31, 1986, but ... the car was "shot down" on takeoff by Israeli politicians who considered that there is no need to spend taxpayers' money on this plane when the Americans uninterruptedly supply the Israeli Air Force with fighters, and even partially pay for deliveries under the gratuitous aid agreement. In addition, Lavi unnerved American partners, who unreasonably considered him a serious competitor. Therefore, in August 1987, the program was closed.

The history of the aircraft could end there, but then Chinese comrades appeared. It was in China that all the Lavi documentation was sold, which engineers from the Middle Kingdom began to rethink creatively. The process took a lot of time, Russian engineers were involved in it, and as a result, on June 28, 2002, a Chinese Lavi, named J-10, first flew into the air. Three years later, the fighter began to enter military units and today is one of the main aircraft of the Air Force of the People's Republic of China.

Since China could not receive American and European aircraft engines, the Russian engine AL-31F became the "heart" of the J-10. The aircraft turned out to be quite light and compact: length - 16.4 meters, wingspan - 9.75 meters, maximum take-off weight - 19, 250 kg, combat radius - 800 kilometers, maximum speed - 2 Mach, ceiling - 18, 000 meters, load - 7500 kg.

The aircraft inherited very good maneuverability from its Israeli progenitor and today is one of the best single-engine fighters in the world. True, in the world arms market, the J-10 is not in special demand. In addition to the Chinese Air Force, the fighter is in service with the Pakistani Air Force and no one has shown any more interest in it. However, this is understandable. As long as the F-16 is produced, it will be very difficult for any other single-engine fighter to steal buyers from an American aircraft.

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