IAI Nammer (Leopard) - Israel, 1991
Detailing the development and operational history of the IAI Nammer (Leopard) 4th Generation Fighter Prototype.
Entry last updated on 4/18/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The failed IAI Nammer was to become the export-minded form of the successful Israeli IAI Kfir line - one prototype was completed before cancellation.
The prior success of the potent and effective IAI "Kfir" fighter-bomber platform for the Israeli Air Force led to Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) investing in an export-minded form of the same design. This endeavor became the abortive "Nammer" product which only saw a sole prototype completed. At its core, it was intended as a modernization, or upgrade, to existing operators of the French Dassault "Mirage 3" and "Mirage 5" lines (the Kfir was itself an evolution of the Mirage 5). Development began during the latter part of the 1980s and continued for a time into the 1990s before the program was scrapped due to a lack of global interest.
Taking the Kfir as the starting point, IAI engineers lengthened the nose cone assembly for a pulse-Doppler multi-mode fire control radar fit and revised the engine compartment to accept two different primary engine types - the French SNECMA Atar 9K-50 turbojet (11,055lb thrust dry / 15,870lb thrust with afterburner) or the Volvo Flygmotor (General Electric) RM12 (F404) turbofan (12,500lb thrust dry / 18,140lb thrust with afterburner). Cockpit features included advanced avionics and Multi-Function Display (MFD) modules as well as a HOTAS (Hands-On-Throttle-and Stock) control scheme. The nose-mounted radar was tied to a modern weapons delivery system for accurate results. The full canard delta wing planform of the Kfir was retained in all its glory as was the single-finned tail section. By all accounts, the Nammer would have exhibited all of the performance and attack capabilities of the Kfir with the flexibility of having the customer choose their equipment fits as needed. Beyond the standard installation of 2 x 30mm DEFA 552 series internal cannons, the aircraft also supported a wide array of guided and unguided munitions including Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) and Air-to-Surface Missiles (ASMs) - these across seven hardpoints (five under the fuselage mass). An in-flight refueling quality was to give the Nammer exceptional range over a warzone and some hardpoints were further plumbed for jettisonable fuel tanks.
A prototype Nammer form took its first flight on March 21st, 1991 and worked towards proving the design sound and a viable over-battlefield component. However, to guarantee a Return-On-Investment (RIO), it was decided that at least eighty aircraft would need to be committed to by potential customers. As this never materialized the Nammer was cancelled and fell to the pages of military aviation history despite its potential.