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IAI Nesher

The Israel Aircraft Industries Nesher (Eagle in Hebrew) is the Israeli name of the Dassault Mirage 5 multi-role fighter aircraft. Most were later sold to the Argentine Air Force and renamed Dagger, and then again renamed Finger.


Dassault had developed the Mirage V at the request of the Israelis, who were the main foreign customers of the Mirage III. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) wanted the next version to have less all-weather capability in exchange for improved ordnance carrying capacity and range as the weather in the Middle East is mostly clear.

The French government arms embargo on Israel (on the eve of the Six Day War and afterwards) prevented the first 30 Mirage 5 aircraft (which were already paid for by Israel) plus optional 20 from being delivered and cut off support for the existing Mirage IIICJ fleet. Officially, Israel built the aircraft after obtaining complete blueprints. However, some sources claim Israel received 50 Mirage 5s in crates from French Air Force (AdA), while the AdA took over the 50 aircraft originally intended for Israel.

The Nesher was identical to the Mirage 5, except for the use of some Israeli avionics, a Martin-Baker zero-zero ejector seat, and provisions for a wider range of AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles), including the Israeli Shafrir heat-seeking missile. Fifty-one Nesher fighters (Nesher S) and ten Nesher two-seat trainers (Nesher T) were built in all.

Nesher production was terminated beginning from 1978 to make way for an improved Mirage derivative that had been in planning in parallel, in which the Atar engine was to be replaced with an Israeli-built General Electric J79 engine, the same engine used on the American Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighters. The result would be the IAI Kfir.


The first Nesher prototype flew in September 1969, with production deliveries to the IAF beginning in May 1971, ending in February 1974. These aircraft performed well during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, claiming over a hundred kills. An estimated 15 Neshers were lost in combat or otherwise. [*]

As mentioned earlier, survivors of these aircraft were refurbished and exported to Argentina in 2 batches, 26 in 1978 and 13 in 1980, under the name "Dagger", comprising 35 "Dagger A" single-seat fighters and 4 "Dagger B" two-seat trainers.

They form a new unit, 6th Air Group, and they were immediately listed with the help of the 8th Air Group (Mirage IIIEA) and the Peruvian Air Force, already user of the french-built Mirage 5, due the escalating crisis with Chile of that year.

During the 1982 Falklands War , they were deployed to the southern naval airbase of Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, and an airfield in Puerto San Julian and despite the distance to their targets and lack of aerial refueling capability, managed to make 153 sorties against both ground and naval targets on the 45 days of operations. In the last role they damaged HMS Antrim (D18), HMS Brilliant (F90), HMS Broadsword (F88), HMS Ardent (F184), HMS Arrow (F173) and HMS Plymouth (F126) . Eleven Daggers were lost in combat.


In the 1979 contract with IAI, the Argentine Air Force stipulated that the Daggers would be equipped with new avionics and HUD systems to take them to the Kfir C.2 (and beyond in some subsystems) standard. The program, named Finger, was underway in 1982 when the war broke out. With the war over, as some of these systems were made by the British Marconi Electronic Systems, they needed to be replaced after an arms embargo was imposed by the UK. The replacement of such systems took the planes to the final Finger IIIB standard mainly by replacing the British equipment with French-built Thomson-CSF.


Nesher S : Single-seat ground-attack fighter version for the Israeli Air Force.

Nesher T : Two-seat training version for the Israeli Air Force.

Dagger A : Refurbished single-seat fighter version for the Argentine Air Force.

Dagger B : Refurbished two-seat training version for the Argentine Air Force.

Finger I :

Finger II :

Finger III :


* Argentine Air Force

* Israeli Air Force


War of Attrition, 1969-1970, ACIG, retrieved October 13, 2006

Dassault Mirage 5/Nesher in Service with the IDF/AF, ACIG, retrieved October 13, 2006

"The Designer of the B-1 Bomber's Airframe", Wing Magazine, Vol. 30/No 4, August 2000, p.48

Swiss Federal Court, case of Alfred Frauenknecht, appeal verdict, November 3, 1970.

External links

IAI Fingers - Youtube video

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article IAI Nesher

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