Arie Egozi/TEL AVIV

THE ISRAELI-LED $600 million upgrade of the Turkish air force's McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms is in jeopardy because of problems over financing.

Although a framework agreement has been signed covering the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI)-driven project, the deal is being threatened by the two countries' inability to agree a mutually acceptable approach to funding the work. One Israeli source close to the programme says that the "...situation is very worrying".

The Israeli treasury has been holding discussions with several Israeli banks in an effort to establish assistance, but with no success.

The Turkish Government, say sources, is demanding that Israel finance the upgrade. Turkey wants a two-year grace period, and then five to seven more years to pay for the upgrade of 54 of its aircraft.

The programme has also been caught up in controversy, over the choice of radar for the Turkish air force. The Israeli Phantom 2000 programme, uses a Westinghouse-Norden Systems multi-mode radar, but Israel is proposing the Elta EL/M 2032 for Turkey.

IAI argues that the US radar is substantially more expensive than the Elta offering, a claim which the US company disputes.

Turkey now wants IAI to demonstrate the 2032 radar fitted to a fighter "within months". An Elta source says that the 2032 variant with the synthetic-aperture-radar mode will be " on schedule " and will not delay the programme.

Source: Flight International