Thursday, October 28, 1999
US upset by Israeli arms sales to IndiaBy ARIEH O'SULLIVAN
JERUSALEM (October 28) - The US has expressed its concern that Israel's sale of advanced weaponry to New Delhi is disrupting the sensitive arms balance between India and Pakistan. US officials told The Jerusalem Post. US officials accompanying Defense Secretary William Cohen, have raised the issue with their Israeli counterparts.
"We have seen disturbing press reports of this sale of Popeye II missiles, and we believe that the introduction of top-of-the-line technology to what is already a tense regional security situation in South Asia at this time would be extremely worrisome," said Larry Schwartz, spokesman for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The issue of advanced technology transfers by Israel to China was also discussed, US officials said.
It is known that one of Israel's prized military exports is the highly accurate Popeye air-to-surface missile. According to the Defense Ministry, the Popeye is effective against high-value targets, such as bunkers and missile sites.
The US has focused considerable attention on the arms balance in the Asian subcontinent. The recent coup in Pakistan has heightened America's desire to stabilize the region.
Last week, 11 Israeli defense firms traveled to New Delhi to ply their wares at a defense trade exhibition. Some of the top defense companies, including Elbit, Israel Aircraft Industries, TAAS - Israel Industries, Rafael, and Elisra, participated.
Rafael and Lockheed Martin have already cooperated to produce the 1,400-kilo AGM-142, virtually identical to the Popeye I, for the US Air Force.
They are also involved in a joint venture to produce the Popeye II, also known as the Have Lite.
The Popeye II is an electro-optical guided missile which is launched about 150 km. from its target. When it gets to about 20 km. from the target, its electro-optical eye searches for and then locks on to the target. It has a 400-kg. warhead and can be used against both reinforced targets or as a fragmentation bomb against anti-aircraft sites.
There is only one other weapon system like it and that is the AGM 130 made by the US firm Rockwell. This missile first saw action in Kosovo and the one which hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
The highly-accurate Popeye I was based on the combat experience of the IAF and has been operational since the late 1980s. Israel has sold it to Australia, and is currently negotiating a deal to supply South Korea.
Turkey has already bought 50 Popeye I missiles for its fleet of F-4s currently being upgraded at Israel Aircraft Industries. But the new deal for Popeye II missiles involves a consortium to be established between two Turkish firms and Rafael that will jointly produce it.
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