The IAI Nesher Vulture is a fighter jet from Israel and was a pure copy of the Mirage 5 from Dassault. It was a multirole fighter jet.

Israeli IAI Nesher-S by StanakIsrael was the originator of the Mirage 5, a derivative of the Mirage IIIE that lacked some of its electronics but carried a larger offensive load. Israel ordered 50 of them. Thus, when Charles de Gaulle decreed an embargo on arms destined for the Middle East in January 1969, i.e. for Israel, this raised spite, indignation and astonishment in the Hebrew state. However, a certain Alfred Frauenknecht, a Swiss engineer, was able to provide 24 of the 26 boxes of plans for the Mirage IIIS and its machine tools. This allowed IAI to launch both the Kfir and the Nesher (Vautour).

The latter was a pure copy of the Mirage 5, from which it differed only in the ejection seat (a Martin-Baker Zero-Zero type), Israeli avionics and the possibility of using Shafrir-type air-to-air missiles. The prototype flew in September 1969.

The first production aircraft flew on March 21st 1971 and was delivered in May to the “First Combat” squadron based in Hatzor. Thanks to the Nesher, this squadron was able to reconstitute its workforce and complete its Mirage III fleet. A first squadron was set up in September 1972 at Etzion, followed by a second in March 1973, at Hatzor. Deliveries were completed in February 1974. The aircraft seems to have equipped a total of 4 squadrons, ‘First Fighter’, ‘First Jet’, ‘Hornet’ and ‘Guardians of the Arava’.

The Nesher was considered less maneuverable than the Mirage IIIC and less equipped with electronics, but with a greater range and payload capacity.

IAI Nesher Vulture

When the Yom Kippur War broke out, some forty Nesher were in service. The first air-to-air victory was on 8 January 1973, when the Nesher shot down two MiG-21s. One of the squadrons, based at Etzion, is said to have won 42 victories without any losses, the “First Fighter” is said to have won 59 victories for 4 losses. Although it was assigned an air superiority role for which it was not intended, the Nesher is said to have scored about 100 victories for a total of 15 losses. They were also used to bomb the Golan Heights. The Nesher and the Mirage III sported orange triangles bordered with black to avoid being confused with the Arab Mirage.

Only 50 Nesher S single-seaters and 11 Nesher T two-seaters were built. From 1975, Israel replaced it with the Kfir and it was definitively withdrawn from service in 1981.

As the aircraft were then offered for export, Argentina became interested and bought 35 single-seaters and 4 two-seaters. It received 26 in 1978 and 13 in 1980. They were given the name Dagger, Dagger A for the single-seaters and Dagger B for the two-seaters. They entered service in 1979 with the 6th Air Group, and were immediately deployed during the crisis with Chile. They took part in the Falklands War in 1982 and bombed the British fleet in San Carlos Bay from 22 to 27 May 1982. 153 missions were carried out and damaged 6 ships: HMS Antrim (D18), HMS Brilliant (F90), HMS Broadsword (F88), HMS Ardent (F184), HMS Arrow (F173) and HMS Plymouth (F126). Eleven Daggers were lost, including 9 shot down by Sea Harriers and 2 by air defence fire.

As early as 1979, it was planned that the Daggers would be upgraded with Kfir C2 systems, a program that became known as the Finger. It was called into question by the Falklands War and the British embargo. However, the Fingers were modernized in several stages (Finger I, II, III), and the last modernizations included equipment supplied by Thomson-CSF.

5 other Nesher T were sold to South Africa to be converted into Cheetah D.

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