John W Golan
The largest weapons development effort ever undertaken by the State of Israel, the Lavi fighter program envisioned a new generation of high-performance aircraft. Controversially, Israel Aircraft Industries intended to develop and manufacture the fighters in Israel with U.S. financial support. The sophisticated planes, developed in the mid-1980s, were unique in design and intended to make up the majority of the Israeli Air Force. Though a great deal of prestige and money was staked, developmental costs increased and doubts arose as to whether the Lavi could be the warplane it was meant to be. Eventually, the program became a microcosm for the US-Israel relationship and of Israeli society itself--a study in the ambitions, fears, and internal divisions that shaped them. The fighter never made it to operational service. Despite the passage of time since its cancelation, the Lavi remains a controversial subject within Israeli society to this day. Until now, the full breadth and significance of the Lavi story has never been told.
Lavi: Israel's Lost Winged Lion traces the evolution of the Lavi fighter from its genesis in the 1970s to its demise in August of 1987. Painting the era's political landscape on both sides of the ocean, author John Golan examines the roles of such Israeli military icons and political leaders as Ezer Weizman, Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin, and Yitzhak Rabin. On the American side, Golan traces the evolution of U.S. government policy towards the program, detailing a complex, nuanced picture of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus and of U.S.-Israel relations in general--from President Reagan's public endorsement of the program on the White House lawn to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger's unremitting attempts to cancel the program in succeeding years.