14 November 2009

Having built up its experience base with the local assembly of the Fouga CM-170 Magister jet trainer in the late 1950s, Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) used the Magister as the basis for its first jet design, the B-101 business jet. The B-101 combined the wings and V-tail of the Magister with a new fuselage and external jet nacelles on the aft fuselage. However, it was soon realized that the target cruise speed of Mach 0.8 wasn't possible with the wings of the Magister. Five different design configurations followed that included a T-tail, swept wings and at one point, a trijet, but the project was eventually cancelled in May 1963.

IAI would get back into bizjets again several years later when Rockwell Standard acquired Jet Commander of Oklahoma. As Rockwell already owned North American Aviation that produced the Sabreliner, the US Department of Justice required that Rockwell had to sell one of the two business jet concerns to comply with anti-trust statutes. As the US military was already operating the Sabreliner as the T-39, the complete Jet Commander program was offered for sale including 49 unsold airframes. In September 1967 IAI was the winning bidder and the Jet Commander evolved into the Westwind.

The Westwind led to the improved IAI Astra which first flew in March 1984 and in turn with cooperation with Yakovlev, led to the IAI Galaxy which first flew in December 1997. In 2001 General Dynamics' Gulfstream Aircraft purchased the Astra and Galaxy programs and they were were rebranded as the G100 and G200 with the G150 a further development that launched in 2002 of what was the IAI Astra.

Source: Air Enthusiast, September/October 2003. "Golden Heritage- Israeli Aircraft Industries at 50" by Shlomo Aloni, p17-30.

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