IAI Lavi

The IAI Lavi was a single-engined 4th generation fighter developed in Israel in the 1980s. Developed by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), the choice to develop the Lavi was controversial, both with the Israeli public due to the enormous associated costs and particularly with the U.S. government due to competition with American fighters on the export market. These issues led to its ultimate cancelation.

The Lavi was planned to be the mainstay of the Israeli Air Force, and considerable export sales for the aircraft had been forecast. The uniqueness of its design was in the combination of a small, aerodynamic, highly maneuverable plane, with sophisticated, software-rich systems, low armed drag, and the ability to carry a large payload at high speed and over long distances. As of 2012, two of the prototypes have been preserved, and have been on public display.

IAI Lavi
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries
Origin Israel
Country Name Origin Year
Israel 1986
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Israel Aerospace Industries 3 View

The Lavi was rather smaller and lighter than the F-16, with a less powerful engine, and lower thrust-to-weight ratio. The wing was unusual in having a shallow sweep on the trailing edge, giving a fleche planform. The straight leading edge was swept at 54 degrees, with maneuver flaps on the outboard sections. Two piece flaperons occupied most of the trailing edge, which was blended into the fuselage with long fillets. Nine different control surfaces were controlled by quadruplex fly-by-wire (FBW), with no mechanical backup, giving the Lavi an instability of between 10 and 12%. The engine air intake took the form of a plain chin type scoop with a splitter plate, externally resembling that of the F-16, yet internally very different, not exposing the jet-engine compressor stage forwards (inverse S-duct), thus drastically minimizing the frontal cross-sections of IR and radar alike.

Role Multirole fighter
Manufacturer Israel Aircraft Industries
First flight 31 December 1986
Status Canceled in August 1987
Number built 3 prototypes

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 14.57 m (47 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 8.78 m (28 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 4.78 m (15 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 33.0 m² (355 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 7,031 kg (15,500 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 9,991 kg (22,025 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 19,277 kg (42,500 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney PW1120 afterburning turbofan, 91.5 kN (20,600 lbf)


  • Maximum speed: 1,965 km/h / Mach 1.6 (1,220 mph)
  • Range: 3,700 km (2,300 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 15,240 m (50,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 254 m/s (50,000 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 303.2 kg/m² (62.0 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.94


  • 1 × 30 mm DEFA cannon
  • 7,260 kg (16,000 lb) of stores

End notes