Russia is in advanced negotiations to supply China with an airborne warning system in case the deal between Beijing and Israel for delivery of a Phalcon AWACS system is canceled, reported Haaretz newspaper.
Russia offered China a considerably less expensive alternative to Israeli package. It is based on the idea that the Ilyushin A-50, on which the airborne early warning and control system is built, will be leased rather than sold to China, said the paper, quoting the British Jane's Defense Weekly.
According to the weekly, the Russians made a similar offer to the government of India, which also negotiated over the purchase of a Phalcon airborne system.
Sources in Israel's defense industry said that should Israel back out of the Phalcon deal, Russia will have no difficulties in filling the void as the supplier of intelligence gathering aircraft to the Chinese air force, said the paper.
The Phalcon is being installed on a Russian-made transport aircraft, which Israel purchased at the high price of $50 million. The cost of the plane raised the overall price of the project substantially.
The A-50 was developed by the Russians especially as a platform for an AWACS system and a base for a large rotating dish was built on its fuselage.
The Chinese opted to take the Russian-made aircraft, which fits in well with the other, primarily Soviet-designed planes in its air force, but wished to incorporate the advanced Western electronics technology, which was offered by Israel, said the paper, quoting a source as saying.
However, the opposition raised against the Israel-China Phalcon deal in recent months by the United States seems to have doomed the possibility that the aircraft will ever be finished and transferred to the Chinese air force.
In recent weeks, Congress has placed increasing pressure on Israel, threatening it with a cut of part or all of the military aid it provides annually.
As a result, the Chinese have decided to reconsider Russia's initial offer, according to the paper - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)