A video clip of the fighter plane believed to have collided with the U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane shows a missile identified as an air-to-air Python-3, manufactured by Israel's Armaments Development Authority, according to the Israeli business publication Globes.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last week released the video clip, shot in January, to illustrate the aggressiveness displayed by Chinese F-8 pilots monitoring U.S. planes over international waters.
Rumsfeld was quoted as saying that the plane in the clip was the same one that collided with the U.S. plane at the beginning of April. It is not known whether the fighter was carrying the weapons when the collision occurred.
Israel has never admitted selling Python-3 missiles to China, although foreign sources have confirmed this to be the case, Globes reported.
Neither the Defense Ministry nor the armaments authority reacted to the report, and the Israeli army said on Monday it had no comment.
It is well known that Israel has sold weapons to China, particularly during the 1980s.
Professor Yitzhak Shichor, of the departments of political science and East Asia studies at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said Monday it was "likely," although not certain, that Israel had sold missiles of this type to Beijing.
He said the missile visible on the video clip could be a Chinese-made one, either based on or incorporating technology sold to them by Israel.
Since 1979, Israel had been selling weapons to China, although Jerusalem and Beijing at that time did not have diplomatic relations, he said. Washington had full knowledge of, and was in agreement with, the sales.
"China was at that time an implicit U.S. ally against the Soviet Union," Shichor said, adding that the U.S. did not begin to criticize Israel's arms sales to China until the early 1990s.
Shichor thought the disclosure of the photograph could be "one step more" in the process of intimidating Israel into not selling more arms to China.
The Israeli daily Ha'aretz Monday quoted security officials as expressing concern that the recent standoff between Beijing and Washington could deliver "a mortal blow" to any deals between Israel and China involving weapons and sophisticated electronic security systems.
Israeli military analysts have said that the health of Israel's defense industry depends on its sales to foreign countries to fund further research and development.
Israel and the U.S. had one of their worst-ever altercations last summer over and Israeli proposal to sell the Chinese an advanced airborne radar system.
Washington feared China could use the system against U.S. planes should a future conflict erupt over Taiwan. Israel eventually canceled the deal, to China's considerable anger.
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