Israel industry tour Day 1: Remember the Lavi

TEL AVIV — It’s probably unfair to start my Israeli tour diary with the Lavi. It’s a bit like finding a way to shoehorn Darleen Druyun’s name into the beginning of a Boeing tanker article.

But there it was as I walked into the factory next door to Ben Gurion International Airport for the Lahav division of Israel Aerospace Industries. Parked behind a long line of refurbishment projects — including two MiG-21s for an African customer, an Mi-17 and an Israeli F-16 — was the last surviving remnant of the Lavi program cancelled in 1986. Pictured below is the B3 technology demonstrator.

The Israeli Air Force cancelled Lavi in 1987, spelling the end for IAI’s future as a combat aircraft manufacturer. Asking company employees about the Lavi even today is not considered being polite.

But it’s arguable that IAI ultimately benefited from Lavi’s demise (although many believe China’s Chengdu J-10 bears a striking resemblance to the Israeli technology — you be the judge).

IAI’s skilled engineers were free (or forced, depending on your perspective) to focus on their literally pioneering (ha! get it?) work on unmanned aerial vehicles, a market that exploded within a decade after the Lavi died.

UAVs might even become IAI’s route back into the combat aircraft business. If the Israeli Air Force already operates an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), the public is not aware of it. But the capability to produce such an aircraft certainly fits within the skill-set of IAI’s workforce.

If a UCAV ever does roll out from the IAI hangar, shall we call it the Lavi II?


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2 Responses to Israel industry tour Day 1: Remember the Lavi

  1. Jimmy W 23 November, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    Compared to the J-10, the Lavi has such a smaller cross sectional area. It is unfortunate, speaking as an engineer, that the J-10 has to incur such a supersonic performance penalty (area rule) due to its engine.

  2. High CD Rates 5 January, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    Greece may borrow privately through banks by the end of January, its second such transaction in as many months, following cuts to the nation’s credit ratings, according to the country’s debt manager.

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