Unfortunately an American designed "knockoff".
Special Report: U.S. Military Technology Sold by Israel To China Upsets Asian Power Balance
By Tim Kennedy
Israel's Lavi fighter-bomber was designed to be one of the deadliest weapons in the air. However, it now has been revealed that after Israel discontinued the largely U.S.-funded project, it sold China the plans for the Lavi and the associated secret U.S. technology. This has enabled the Chinese to build their own version of this new generation of fighter aircraft.
The illegal transfer of plans for the Lavi aircraft from Tel Aviv to Beijing first became known by the Pentagon when an American surveillance satellite orbiting over China spotted several new fighter planes on the runway of a Chinese air base traditionally used for the test and evaluation of prototype aircraft. Imagery experts at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) created rough sketches of the jet, then processed the graphic data through high-speed supercomputers in order to obtain three-dimensional representations of the prototype Chinese fighter planes.
CIA officials specializing in aviation technology were stunned at the 3-D images generated by the computers. China's newest fighter jet was in fact a copy of the Israeli Lavi, which itself was modeled upon the U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role aircraft.
Although Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Israel's biggest state-owned manufacturer of arms and defense technology, was the Lavi's prime contractor, nearly 90 percent of the Lavi was funded by the Pentagon. This is just one astonishing aspect of the story of the U.S.-Israeli aircraft, the evolution of which was almost as Byzantine as its surprise ending as the most formidable weapon in China's military arsenal.
It took American military officials very little time to decide which American fighter plane should serve as the model for the Lavi. They chose the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Pentagon sources revealed to the Washington Report that when U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry confronted Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with the allegations concerning transfer to China of U.S. stealth and other fighter aircraft technologies last year in Tel Aviv, Rabin promised to "resolve the issue." That was before Rabin's Nov. 4 assassination.
The CIA, which for some time has been concerned about the increasingly close link between Israeli and Chinese defense industries, and the threat this alliance poses to world stability, has been similarly frustrated.
Former CIA director R. James Woolsey informed the U.S. Senate in late 1993 that he was "alarmed" by the military partnership between Tel Aviv and Beijing, and officially accused Israel of "illegally supplying China with classified defense technology from sources in the West."
Reading from a declassified CIA report while appearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Woolsey added: "We believe the Chinese seek from Israel advanced military technologies that U.S. and Western firms are unwilling to provide."
Woolsey revealed that Israel has been selling military technology to China for over a decade, and that the sales may amount to several billion dollars.
During subsequent testimony, Woolsey said the CIA is convinced China also is relying on its friends in Israel to assist in developing advanced engines for the next generation of Chinese combat vehicles. He said also that China will rely on Israeli expertise to create sophisticated airborne radar that employs super-secret technology that has been entrusted to Israel for another multibillion dollar joint project--production in Israel of the Arrow missile defense program which also has been funded largely by the United States.
"[These are] systems," concluded Woolsey in his testimony, "the Chinese would have difficulty producing on their own." Now it appears that, thanks to Israeli transfer of highly classified U.S. military technology, the Chinese have done just that, setting off alarm bells among China's neighbors, and America's allies, all around the rim of Asia.