The Israeli Government has set up a committee to evaluate the procurement of defence systems from Europe in the latest twist of an argument with the USA over the intended export by Israel Aircraft Industries of sophisticated airborne early-warning technology to China.

Washington's offensive against the export of a single Phalcon AEW system integrated into a Beriev A-50 by IAI subsidiary Elta, is becoming more strident as the work in Tel Aviv continues to progress.

After threatening to cut defence aid to Israel by $250 million (the price of the first Phalcon system) US Congressional members have now threatened to block the sale of some military equipment to Israel - deals for the Boeing AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter and Raytheon King Air B-200 surveillance aircraft were mentioned as possible targets.

Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sne reacted by suggesting that if the USA implements sanctions , Israel should retaliate by not purchasing various defence equipment from US companies. As a result, an interdepartmental committee has been formed to evaluate the purchase of defence systems from Europe - an area of activity virtually frozen since France put in place an arms embargo over 30 years ago. Since then, the USA has become the sole source of Israel's defence imports on the back of a $1.8 billion annual defence aid package.

Source: Flight International