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Israel Working With Chinese Jets

November 9, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel is outfitting a Chinese air force plane with an advanced airborne early warning system that will allow the aircraft to conduct long-range radar surveillance and coordinate forces during battle, an Israeli official said Tuesday.

The Soviet manufactured Ilyushin-50 aircraft has been in Israel for more than two weeks, being mounted with the PHALCON radar system, said the Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

PHALCON, which stands for Phased-Array L-Band Conformal radar, is manufactured by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries. Elta designed the system for the Israel air force using an American- manufactured Boeing 707 airliner as a platform.

Reports that Israel is selling the system to China have been circulating for two years.

It has also been reported that Israel has sold the PHALCON to South Africa and converted two South African air force Boeings for the system.

According to foreign reports, Israel already has extensive military cooperation with China. Jane’s Defense Weekly has reported that a fighter plane now being developed by China bears a striking resemblance to the Lavi, an Israeli aircraft developed in the 1980s but scrapped before it entered production.

Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian, who visited Israel last month, discussed the possibility that Israel Aircraft Industries might upgrade China’s Mig-21 fighters, which form the backbone of the Chinese air force but are antiquated, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said. The Soviet-built Mig-21 dates back to the 1960s.

Chi toured the aircraft manufacturer, viewing pilotless planes, sea-to-sea missiles, radar and other systems.

Update hourly