Russian news agency Novosti has reported that Iran has signed a deal with China, which will see the Islamic nation purchasing up to two squadrons of the communist nation's newly developed J-10 fighter planes. The surprise announcement comes even as tensions in the region are ratcheting up by the day.
The estimated operational range of the aircraft, with external fuel tanks, is 3,000 kilometers, which technically also puts Israel within the J-10's radius of operation. What adds a touch of irony to the proceedings is the fact that the J-10 incorporates Israeli technology, which this Mid-East nation had passed on to China in the mid-eighties. Iran swears to annihilate Israel on a periodic basis.
The transfers were made by Israel after the cancellation of its much-touted Lavi multi-role fighter project, which at that point of time was considered to be the most advanced fighter programme of its type.
The engines of the J-10 are Russian-made.
The size of the deal, if correctly reported, is estimated at $1 billion, with deliveries expected between 2008 and 2010.
The report also comes on the heels of fresh Israeli effort to supply defence technology to China, after some earlier aborted efforts (See: US may clear Israel-China spy satellite deal)
Israel has periodically drawn fire from various sources, governmental and non-governmental, for what is referred to as "short sighted" export policies. Reports, for long, have claimed that long-range missiles supplied by China to Saudi Arabia also contain Israeli know how.