SOUTH KOREA AND Israel are considering purchasing, the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS).

Both US allies have made formal "expressions of interest" to the Pentagon. South Korean military officials have been briefed on the programme and Israeli military officials are seeking a briefing as well.

The JSTARS purchases could involve as many as a dozen systems, but US sources say that it is too early to tell how interested both parties are in the advanced surveillance aircraft.

The next step will be for the Pentagon to issue letters of offer to the two nations, spelling out price, quantity and delivery schedules. They would then sign letters of intent to buy the weapon. Eventually, formal purchase agreements would be concluded.

The Clinton Administration has yet to decide whether formal offers will be made, but no opposition is expected within the US Government since both countries are strong US backers. Both nations are cleared to receive top-of-the-line US weaponry.

Northrop Grumman is providing the US Air Force with 20 JSTARS systems. The company says that it can meet emerging NATO needs.

Source: Flight International