The nation of Israel, in its modern incarnation, was born into war and this meant that a ready and willing military needed to be established for the country to exist when surrounded by largely Arab neighbors. In the early going, it was simple enough to purchase military equipment from retired stocks found around the globe and the first generation Israeli Army even featured M4 Sherman tanks among other classic vehicles. In time it soon became apparent to authorities that local initiatives should be undertaken to help create a more independent Israel in terms of military power. This work begat a slew of products of which some became successful additions to the Israeli arsenal and others faded into history.
The IAI "Nesher" (Hebrew for "Vulture") was brought along the lines of a multi-role platform with strike capabilities built into the design while also retaining fighter-like prowess. The basis for the aircraft became the French Dassault "Mirage 5", a globally popular multirole fighter introduced during the 1960s and produced to the tune of 582 aircraft. The Israelis entered into talks with the French government to procure the type but regional tensions led to an embargo on Israel - though the initial batch of aircraft was allowed to complete its production run.
However, these aircraft were never officially handed over to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) - Israel was refunded their purchase money by the French government. From this, two sides of a story emerged with one claiming that the Israelis rebuilt the line from blueprints and another claiming that the French did, indeed, delivered unassembled Mirage Vs to the Israelis in secret. At any rate, the Israeli-manufactured version (whether officially licensed or not) of the Mirage 5 became known as the IAI "Nesher". IAI Bedek Aviation Division even completed the French SNECMA Atar 09C turbojet engines for the line.
The primary difference between the Mirage 5 and the Nesher was in the latter's reliance on Israeli-developed avionics. It also provided the pilot with a Martin-Baker JM6 series "zero-zero" ejection seat. Additionally, the armament suite supported both the American AIM-9 "Sidewinder" short-ranged air-to-air missile as well as the indigenous Rafael "Shafrir" ("Dragonfly") AAM and Rafael "Luz" air-to-surface missile. The SNECMA engine produced 13,670 pounds of thrust with afterburning which gave good performance in service.
The Nesher, in prototype form, went to the air for the first time during September of 1969. A short period of testing and evaluation followed which led to deliveries in 1971 and service entry coming in 1972. Fifty-one of the combat-ready planes were taken on as well as ten of the two-seat trainer form. They received their baptism of fire during the Yom Kippur War (1973) and gave an excellent account of themselves - managing over 100 air kills in the conflict.
"Nesher S" marked the base, single-seat attack forms for the IAF and these were followed by the "Nesher T" designation marking two-seat trainers. When the upcoming IAI "Kfir" aircraft entered into IAF plans, the IAI Nesher was marginalized and eventually offered for export - to which Argentina took the Israelis up on the offer. These were then designated as "Dagger A" and "Dagger B" respectively and delivered in batches during 1978-1979 and 1981-1982. Numbers totaled 35 of the single-seat attackers and four trainers. At least five were procured by the South African Air Force.
Because of its close association with the French Mirage 5, dimensions and performance figures for the Nesher were quite close in comparison. Overall length was 51.35 feet with a wingspan of 26.97 feet and height of 14.76 feet. Empty weight was 14,550 lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 29,762 lb. Maximum speed reached 1,460 miles per hour with ranges out to 808 miles, a service ceiling of 58,000 feet and a rate-of-climb nearing 16,400 feet-per-minute.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
51.3 ft (15.65 m)
27.0 ft (8.22 m)
14.8 ft (4.50 m)
14,551 lb (6,600 kg)
29,762 lb (13,500 kg)
+15,212 lb (+6,900 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base IAI Nesher (Vulture) production variant)
1 x SNECMA Atar 09C turbojet engine developing 13,688lb thrust with afterburner (9,435lb dry).
Up to 8,800 lb of conventional ordnance across five external hardpoints.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 5
Nesher - Base Series Name
Nesher S - Base Fighter-Bomber model; 51 examples
Nesher T - Two-seat trainer variant; 10 examples
Dagger A - Export Nesher S to Argentina; 35 examples
Dagger B - Export Nesher T to Argentina; four examples
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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