Iran to buy 24 jet fighters from China
Iran has signed a deal with China to buy two squadrons of J-10 fighter planes that are based on Israeli technology, the Russian news agency Novosti reported yesterday.
The 24 aircraft are based on technology and components provided to China by Israel following the cancellation of the Lavi project in the mid-1980s. The engines of the J-10 are Russian-made.
The total cost of the planes is estimated at $1 billion, and deliveries are expected between 2008 and 2010.
The estimated operational range of the aircraft, with external fuel tanks, is 3,000 kilometers, which means Israel falls within their radius of operation.
During the 1980s, Israel Aircraft Industries, along with U.S. firms, developed a multi-role aircraft that was considered the most advanced of its type at the time.
Following the development of a prototype, the Reagan administration stopped funding, bringing about the cancellation of the joint project.
Israel then began selling some of the systems it had developed to various countries, including China.
Experts point out that even with these aircraft, Iran's air force is no match for Israel's or even Saudi Arabia's.
Some analysts expressed criticism at what they called Israel's "short sighted" and lax export policies.
This is not the first time Israeli components were part of weapons systems aimed at Israel. Some reports claimed that China sold Saudi Arabia long-range missiles containing Israeli know-how.
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