Saturday, April 30, 2005

Reports that Israel Frozen out of F-35 Development

Posted 19-Apr-2005 08:10
Related stories: Air Forces, Air Platforms, Australia/Asia, Events, Lobbying, Malfeasance, Non-U.S., U.S.
Also on this day: 19-Apr-2005 »
AIR_F-35_Joint_Strike_Fighter.jpg
F-35 JSF

Israeli defense industry executives are reporting that the U.S. has frozen Israel out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter development of a program as punishment for its military cooperation with China, including its work on Harpy anti-radar attack UAVs acquired by China from state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries in 1994. Israeli Defense Ministry officials refused to confirm the report, noting only that they were in dialogue and hoped that "within its framework understandings will be reached soon."

In recent weeks the White House has warned European countries not to lift a boycott on China arms sales, and even restricted the sale of mapping software to China developed from U.S. naval sonar technology. The Bush administration has also pressured Israel to 'roll back' its defense relations with China.

AIR_UAV_Harpy.jpg
IAI Harpy UAV
The Israeli Aerospace Industry (IAI) Harpy is an advanced attack UAV system that homes in on air defense radars and attacks them. Launched from a ground vehicle or surface warship far away from the battle zone, the Harpy UAV can detect, attack and destroy radar emitters in all-weather conditions, day/night over a distance of 500kg. Once an enemy radar is detected and verified, the UAV transitions into a near vertical dive and destroy the target with its high explosive warhead. The Harpy UAV is currently in service with Israel, Turkey and India.

China reportedly acquired an unknown number of Harpys in 1994. Western intelligence first identified Harpy UAVs in service with the PLA in the joint PLA exercise held near the Taiwan Strait in 2004. Back in December 2004, Pentagon Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Doug Feith reportedly demanded the resignation of retired Maj. Gen. Amos Yaron, the widely respected and longtime director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Defence. According to the reports, Feith was 'outraged' that the USA was not informed the UAV sale to China in 1994. In summer 2004 tension rose when some of China's Harpys were sent back to Israel - whether for routine maintenance or upgrades is a matter of some dispute. The Pentagon has already demanded that Israel not deliver these UAVs back to China, even though they are properties of the PRC.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government passed a resolution authorizing the use of force if Taiwan declares itself an independent state. The self-governing island split from China at the end of a protracted civil war in 1949.

The U.S. Air Force plans to take delivery of the first operational F-35s in 2008.

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