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Meet the Yak-26 Mandrake, the Spy Plane Israel Was Never Able to Kill

Dario Leone
Par Maarten from Netherlands. — Yakovlev Yak-25RV on Flickr - Photo Sharing!, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5796812

Dario Leone

History, Middle East

Can't touch this.

Meet the Yak-26 Mandrake, the Spy Plane Israel Was Never Able to Kill

They had stripped several Phantoms of non-essential gear to improve performance and were armed only with AIM-7 Sparrows. Sitting alert, it was hoped that the jets could be launched with sufficient warning to perform a zoom climb from Mach 1.4 to 44,000ft (13,410m) and launch their missiles in a high nose-up attitude and leading the target. However, the proximity fuse of the missiles and the Phantom’s fire control computer were not suitable for such engagement conditions and the warheads detonated too late.

The reason the Israeli Air Force (IAF)worked so hard to obtain the F-4 in the late 1960s, and relied on it for so much, is clear. The big jet’s range, payload, and bombing accuracy were superior by orders of magnitude to anything they had operated up to that time.

In fact, after having been acquired in 1969 the Phantom quickly became the backbone of the IAF.

By October 1973 the IAF claimed 11 kills to the Phantom’s credit.

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