Lavi Redux

In my piece, The Lavi Lives, I made a point that I want to hammer on again. It’s one of many themes that run through each of my articles:

Corruption Kills

Corruption killed the IAI Lavi fighter, which lead to a lesser corruption that resurrected it in China.

That was an easy statement to make, but it lacks the power that only detail can give it. So, let me add some of that detail. 

When they are creating a new weapon system, Israeli design teams have one goal that sits at the top of everything else: battlefield survivability. Everything else is secondary. Everything.

Israel’s main battle tank, the Merkava, is designed to be the most survivable tank in the world. Israeli designed aircraft (such as the Kfir) are designed to complete their missions and get their pilots home. Israeli ships and submarines are designed to complete their operations and make it back to port.

Israeli teams design like that because every soldier, sailor, and pilot is precious. Each and every one is a beautiful daughter or handsome son to someone. Every life lost on the battlefield is a tragedy.

However, this protectiveness gives a tremendous battlefield advantage. It means that Israeli soldiers can be more aggressive and more creative. Because Israeli design teams did the best that they could to protect the life of each Israeli soldier, each Israeli soldier does the best that he can to spend that life wisely. It is an awesome marriage of confidence and one of many reasons why Israeli military systems and Israeli soldiers are the most dangerous in the world.

Now, think about what happens when corruption hands this highly effective technology to our enemies.  Because of corruption in big business and big government, the IAI Lavi became the Chengdu J-10. 

Because of corruption, the J-10 is a fantastic instrument of death and destruction. Because it was essentially designed by Israel, it will be hard to find. It will be hard hit. It will be hard to destroy. J-10 pilots will have greater confidence in their aircraft and be more and more willing to fly dangerous missions.  

Because of corruption, the Iranian and Pakistani air forces have one of the most advanced multi-role fighter-bombers in the world. And, they will not fail to use it against Israel and the United States.

One day, the J-10 will fly missions against US targets, and US men and women will die because that fighter will be hard to find and hard to shoot down.

So, say a big ‘thank you’ to General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, every time…

a surface-to-air missile fails to hit a J-10 fighter

a targeting radar fails to lock on a J-10

a J-10-delivered bomb kills a son or daughter 

a J-10-delivered nuke destroys a city

And, you can go on to thank the US State Department and the leadership of the US Air Force. I’m sure that they will all be grateful for your appreciation. 

Because this corruption (and others like it) was allowed to take place, people that we love will die.

Corruption Kills

8 thoughts on “Lavi Redux

  1. Made in China? What are we worried about again? Things made in China fall apart. Hasn’t their reputation here lately proven that.

    Knock offs and inferior product are their specialty.

  2. ‘So say a big ‘thank you’ to General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, every time…
    a surface-to-air missile fails to hit a J-10 fighter
    a targeting radar fails to lock on a J-10
    a J-10-delivered bomb kills a son or daughter
    a J-10-delivered nuke destroys a city”

    I must be a bit naive on this subject, is this sarcasm when referring to General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin? What’s the story here?

    From your link:
    One news article reported that when the U.S. government questioned Israel’s Lavi technology re-exportation to China, the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Defense David Lari “acknowledged in an Associated Press interview that ‘some technology on aircraft’ had been sold to China and that some Israeli companies may not have ‘clean hands'”.[13] According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the J-10 is modeled on the Lavi, and Israel cooperated with China on the J-10’s development as well as on other projects.[14]

    The J-10 looks like an early to mid 1980’s fighter jet. Certainly not a rival to the JSF or F-22 Raptor. Israel will receive their JSF three years early according to reports I’ve read. If China or Pakistan has built their fighters from stolen technology from that era I don’t think Israel or the US has too much to worry about. Even the latest version Russian Migs and Su’s pale in comparison to the latest Lockheed Martin products.

  3. Hey Tedders,

    Looks can be deceiving, but it certainly is true that the J-10 can’t outperform the JSF or even the F-22.

    It doesn’t need to.

    It just needs to outperform the F-16 and F/A-18, which it does.

    It just needs to be able to deliver nuclear weapons on target, which it can.

    Furthermore, it serves as an excellent example of corruption at work.

    General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin killed the Lavi and gave birth to a whole new industry in China.

    This kind of corruption at Israel’s expense is just more-of-the-same, and it makes me sick.

    – John

    PS. Oh, and the data that we have on the J-10 is OLD. China has had the J-10 for quite a few years and has been hard at work on advanced variants and new generations.

  4. I guess I’m still not clear as to why there is so much attention being focused on this possible (although not yet confirmed) Chinese sale.

    There was a fairly comprehensive summary published last year, in the British magazine Combat Aircraft (Vol 7 No’s 8 & 9), covering the ongoing modernization of China’s air force – including Israel’s involvement in the J-10:

    To put it in simple terms:

    – Yes, Israel did supply military technology to China during the 1990s – including assistance in the development of the J-10 fighter

    – Yes, the J-10 did draw on Israel’s Lavi experience

    – NO, the J-10 is NOT a copy of the Lavi. The J-10 is a much larger airplane than the Lavi was intended to be, built around the limited selection of Russian jet engines available to China, and the more limited manufacturing capabilities that China could afford.

    – Yes, the US government was well aware of Israeli participation in Chinese weapons programs during the 1990s – and accepted Israel’s role, as well as that of various European arms deals with China.

    – When the US government changed its view on China’s potential threat, following a series of espionage scandals in the late 1990s, Israel halted all further cooperation with China on the J-10 or other projects.

    – Without the sensor suite and properly trained pilots to accompany it, the utility of the J-10 in Iranian hands would be highly limited.

    Quite frankly, the Clinton Administration was as much to blame for Israeli involvement on the J-10 as were the Israeli contractors who provided their consulting expertise. If the US had objected early-on – rather than years later – the entire J-10 program might never have left the drawing board.

    – wesley

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