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Audio: The Great Military Blunder That Cost Our Independence

When in 1987 the Lavi Fighter project was cancelled, we shot ourselves in the foot. Hear Moshe Arens, the father of the Lavi explain why.
6/23/2013, 6:00 PM

A7 Radio's "Walter's World" with Walter Bingham
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When in 1987 the Lavi Fighter project was cancelled, we shot ourselves in the foot. Hear Moshe Arens, the father of the Lavi explain why.

Was Israel paid off by the American Aircraft Industry to stop production? Walter Bingham gives you his take.

Also: Do the ‘Women of the Wall’ use the holy Western Wall as a prop, to further their political aims of promoting feminist equality of the sexes?

And: The Party in the gardens of Chaim Weizmann’s house, to celebrate 62 years of the reign of Queen Elisabeth II, organised by The British Embassy in Israel.

The first Lavi (B-01) flew on 31 December 1986, piloted by IAI chief test pilot Menachem Schmul. The handling was described as excellent, with a high degree of stability in crosswind landings, and the flight test program proceeded apace. The second Lavi (B-02) flew on 30 March 1987. Both Lavi B-01 and Lavi B-02 were tandem two-seaters, with the rear cockpit occupied by test equipment.

Then, on 30 August 1987, the Lavi program was canceled, after Lavi B-01 and Lavi B-02 had made more than 80 flights. The two prototypes had flown at speeds from 204 km/h up to Mach 1.45 at 23o angle of attack. Many systems, including the digital flight control, were tested within this envelope.

The third Lavi (B-03) and subsequent Lavi prototypes (B-04 and B-05) would be fitted with the definitive wing with increased aileron chord and the last three prototypes would also have the complete mission-adaptive avionics system. Lavi B-04 and Lavi B-05 were just about to receive the definitive wing when the program was canceled.

The first production aircraft were intended to be delivered in 1990 and initial operationally capability (IOC) was planned for 1992. At the height of the production, a total of twelve aircraft would be produced in one month. The Lavi would have been the most important aircraft of the IDF/AF in the nineties.

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Walter Bingham was born in Germany. Just days before the outbreak of WWII, with the help of a Zionist youth movement he was selected for a place on the ‘Kindertransport’ to Great Britain. Walter saw front line action during the Normandy invasion of Europe and was awarded the Military Medal for ‘Bravery in the Field’. In England Walter also acted in films including several Harry Potter films. On the day of his Aliyah in August 2004 he transferred his programme ‘Walter’s World’ to Israel National Radio as a weekly Magazine programme and it has been running here regularly ever since. Walter is an accomplished public speaker and was a member of a visiting panel of lecturers at schools throughout the UK, where he spoke on events in the Third Reich. He has also spoken at schools in the USA and addressed audiences in Israel.
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