A public Chinese defense firm, accredited by the People’s Liberation Army, has been marketing an advanced airborne radar which it claims is based on “field-proven experience” from ELTA Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1), according to a report in US “Defense News."
There is a concern that the Beijing-based firm would sell Chinese warplanes equipped with the radar to countries hostile to Israel, specifically Iran. The “Defense News” report identifies the firm as NAV Technology and notes that ELTA was previously at the heart of a Washington-Jerusalem controversy 15 years ago.
In 2000, Israel attempted to sell the Phalcon AWACS system to China in a deal worth $1.2 billion, despite the objections of both the US administration and Congress. Israel was eventually pressured to cancel the contract and pay China $350 million in compensation.
According to the “Defense News” report, NAV’s catalogue, published for the Airshow China fair in Zhuhai last November, included an active electronic scanned array (AESA) airborne radar that “incorporates ELTA's decades of field-proven experience with real operational feedback from Israel Air Force combat pilots."
The American magazine notes that the catalogue does not identify ELTA’s product by its code, but the description of the system is nearly identical to the marketing data published by the IAI unit. The Chinese firm claims its product is capable of precision attack of multiple targets in the air, on the ground, and on the sea.
If the radar is truly part of NAV’s portfolio, it means the product could supply the technology in Chinese combat jets exported to states hostile to Israel and the US. “Defense News” claims China has already started planning the sale of those planes to Iran and other states.
The Ministry of Defense told the magazine’s correspondent in Israel, Barbara Opall-Rome, that it had no knowledge of NAV or its purported affiliation with Elta. A spokesperson refused to answer if the ministry had ever approved an export license for IAI to market the Elta rader in China or to Chinese subsidiaries, referring the reporter to IAI.
IAI spokesperson Eliana Fishler denied any connection between Elta and NAV “or any other Chinese firm.” She told the US magazine, "We don't have a clue as to why they wrote this in their brochure, but it is completely not true."
The “Defense News” report partly supports the claim, saying NAV’s catalogue notes the firm’s willingness to reverse engineer US-made navigation systems installed in Pakistani planes.
Opall-Rome told "Globes" that it was unfortunate that the Ministry of Defense did not use the opportunity to unambiguously distance itself from any ties to a Chinese firm, which is allegedly in breach of accepted practices. She said it was regrettable that IAI also avoided declaring that legal measures should be taken against the Chinese company.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 20, 2015
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