Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is looking to sell Kfir fighters that were earmarked for Argentina to United States-based private contractors for use as 'Red Air' training platforms, a senior company executive told Jane's on 20 June.
Speaking at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, Benjamin Cohen, President and General Manager IAI's LAHAV Division, said that the company is currently in discussions with at least two private contractors for 12 to 14 Kfirs that were rebuilt for an Argentinean deal that never materialised.
"We are trying to find a new customer for the 12 to 14 aircraft that were planned for Argentina. We think a US 'aggressor' trainer would work - ATAC already flies them, and Draken [International] is an option also," he said, adding that Discovery Air has not been approached, though he did not elaborate as to why not.
The planned sale of Kfirs to Argentina was first revealed in 2014, when comments made by CEO Joseph Weiss that IAI was preparing to announce a deal for the aircraft coincided with a visit by Jane's to the Tel Aviv production facility during which the Argentinean flag was seen alongside those of known Kfir operators, past and present. IAI declined to comment on Argentina as a customer at that time, and Cohen's statement is the first official confirmation that a deal was in the final stages of being finalised.
With the Kfir currently in service with Colombia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka, IAI relaunched a modernised version of the 1970s-era fighter back onto the international market in early 2013. The Block 60 standard aircraft features a 'zero-timed' airframe, system, sensor, and weapon enhancements, and is available in both a single- and twin-seat configuration.
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