The Israel Aircraft Industries Nesher was the Israeli version of the French Dassault Mirage 5 multirole fighter.
During the early 1962, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) introduced the first of its Dassault Mirage IIICJ fighter aircraft.
For the next two decades, it would be used as an air supremacy platform, securing the skies from hostile aircraft and achieving an impressive kill record during its service life.
The performance of the Mirage IIICJ was soon regarded as being highly positive, leading to the type being considered as a strong contender for further development.
During the late 1960s, the IAF came under pressure to acquire additional aircraft for the purpose of replacing in excess of 60 combat aircraft that had been lost during several conflicts between Israel and its neighbours, including the Six-Day War of 1967 and the War of Attrition which followed immediately and continued up to 1970.
In addition, an arms race was emerging between Israel and several of its neighbours, such as Syria and Egypt, which were receiving increasingly advanced armaments from the Soviet Union during this time.
Accordingly, during July 1960, Israel had commenced work on a co-development effort with French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation to develop and produce a variant of their highly successful Mirage III fighter aircraft.
This product of this program became known as the Mirage 5, and it was eventually built by Israel and named Raam in Hebrew.
Dassault had pursued the development of the Mirage 5 at the request of the Israelis, who were the main foreign customers of the Mirage III and generally favoured France as a military supplier during this era.
Specific requirements established by the IAF for the next version of the type was to de-emphasis the aircraft’s all-weather capability and deleting its main radar system in exchange for improved ordnance-carrying capacity and range; this was made possible by the mostly clear climate and typical weather conditions present in the Middle East.
Even prior to the prototype’s maiden flight, Israel placed an order for a batch of 50 aircraft, as well as a pair of trainer aircraft of the type, which were intended for the IAF.
However, the programme was effectively derailed during January 1969 when, in response to the 1968 Israeli raid on Lebanon, the French government announced that it would be imposing an arms embargo on Israel and the “warring nations of the Middle East”.
The enactment of the embargo prevented the delivery of the first 30 Mirage 5 aircraft, which were already paid for by Israel, in addition to options for 20 more of the type.
In addition to preventing further deliveries, it also cut off all French support for operating the IAF’s existing Mirage IIICJ fleet.
Strategically, the embargo gave a major impetus for Israel to develop the capabilities of its own domestic arms industry in order to meet its demands.
The embargo has been viewed as having been a considerable setback for the IAF, who had been keen to induct the new Mirage 5 variant to compensate for the losses incurred during the Six-Day War, the service was also continuing to use the Mirage IIIC, but found itself unable to access official support.
In response to the French decision, Israel decided to domestically manufacture the airframes (known as Raam A and B project); reportedly, Israel already possessed the necessary schematics and documentation on the aircraft, although Israel did not officially obtain a manufacturing license from Dassault.
According to aviation author Don McCarthy, it has been speculated that Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had played a role in obtaining some of the manufacturing information, while others allege that Dassault’s founder, Marcel Dassault, may have freely provided design information.
Single-seat ground attack fighter version for the Israeli Air Force.
Two seat training version for the Israeli Air Force.
Refurbished single-seat fighter version for the Argentine Air Force.
Refurbished two-seat training version for the Argentine Air Force.
15.65 m (51 ft 4 in)
8.22 m (27 ft 0 in)
4.25 m (13 ft 11 in)
34.8 m2 (375 sq ft)
6,600 kg (14,551 lb)
Max take-off weight
13,500 kg (29,762 lb)
1 × SNECMA Atar 9C afterburning turbojet engine,
60.89 kN (13,690 lbf) with afterburner
@ 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
1,300 km (810 mi, 700 nmi)
1,186 km (737 mi, 640 nmi) with 4,700 l (1,200 US gal; 1,000 imp gal) fuel in drop tanks
+ 2x AAM + 2,600 lb (1,179 kg) of bombs
17,680 m (58,010 ft)
Rate of climb
83 m/s (16,300 ft/min)
Two 30mm IAI/DEFA 552 cannon in the fuselage, with 140 rounds each
6 under wing and 1 under fuselage hardpoint with a capacity of 9,259 lb (4,200 kg),