Die and let live – the alleged journey of the Israeli Lavi fighter

Every mention of the Chinese Jian-10 (J-10) fighter brings back the rumors of the alleged help Israel gave to the programme.

It seems that in certain offices in Washington, there are officials who are still angry about the past defence ties between Israel and China. This anger forced Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to cancel a deal to sell airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft to China in 2000.

However, the cancellation of the AEW deal stems from earlier allegations concerning another programme.

In 1987 IAI was forced to terminate its Lavi fighter aircraft programme – Washington did not like the idea of an Israeli-developed fighter, and development was shut down.

The J-10 has been referred to in the media as the “Chinese Lavi”, and the allegations were that Israel – after it was forced to terminate the programme – assisted China in developing the J-10, mainly by selling some technologies. Experts even pointed to “clear resemblances” they claim exist between the two fighters.

A few days ago, when the Pakistani press revealed that the country’s air force is getting ready to accept its first J-10′s, the story surfaced again,

The J-10 is a multi-role fighter aircraft designed for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The aircraft was designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (611 Institute) and built by the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation.

The aircraft has been operational with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army air force since 2003, and is available in the single-seat fighter variant J-10 and two-seater fighter-trainer variant J-10S.  

In recent reports, following the preparations made in Pakistan, the local press again said that the development of the J-10 was reportedly assisted by Israel, which provided the technologies of its cancelled IAI Lavi lightweight fighter – including the aerodynamic design and the software for the fly-by-wire control system.

The Lavi has been dead a long time, but its memory lives on – at least in the heads of some experts and reporters.

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