TAIPEI and TEL AVIV — A People's Liberation Army (PLA)-accredited, publicly traded firm is marketing an advanced airborne fire-control radar believed to be from Elta Systems, the same Israeli state-owned subsidiary at the heart of an incendiary chapter in US-Israel relations that continues to reverberate 15 years after Washington forced Israel to cancel a controversial contract with Beijing.
According to a product catalogue by NAV Technology Company, the Beijing-based firm claims its active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar "incorporates Elta's decades of field-proven experience with real operational feedback from Israel Air Force combat pilots."
While the catalogue — distributed at Airshow China in Zhuhai last November — does not directly identify Elta's ELM-2052 radar by name, its two-page description is nearly identical to publicly available marketing data by Elta, a subsidiary of state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), whose Phalcon aerial warning and control radar deal with Beijing was terminated in mid-2000 due to fierce opposition from executive and legislative branches of the US government.
The NAV-purported product boasts advanced multimode capabilities for precision, long-range attack of multiple air, sea and moving ground targets.
If indeed the radar is part of NAV's product portfolio, it could provide Chinese-made fighters — including those planned for export to Iran and other nations hostile to both Israel and the United States — with the ability to track and attack dozens of targets simultaneously.
Israel's Ministry of Defence on Monday said it has no knowledge of NAV and its claimed association with Elta. Yet when asked if the MoD had ever granted IAI a license to market the Elta airborne AESA radar in China or to a Chinese subsidiary, spokeswoman Orna Simhoni-Ofer declined to answer and referred Defense News to IAI.
In a written reply, IAI spokeswoman Eliana Fishler denied any association between Elta and NAV "or any other Chinese firm."
According to Fishler, "We don't have a clue as to why they wrote this in their brochure, but it is completely not true."
Fishler declined, however, to state what, if any, steps the firm intended to take against NAV for what it insists is a blatant forgery of IAI/Elta marketing information.
Yang Yunchun, NAV Technology chairman and president, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The Chinese-language website for the company does not list an AESA radar as a product. According to public information, Yang is the founder and principal stockholder (55 percent) of the company traded on the Chinese stock exchange.
The NAV catalogue also lists a "NAV-SDB Small Diameter Bomb" that appears identical to the Boeing GBU-39 precision-guided glide bomb, including photograph and specs.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.