TEL AVIV Ñ The United States has approved a proposed $1 billion sale
of Israeli advanced early-warning systems to India.
Senior U.S. officials told Israel that the Bush administration no longer
has reservations to the Israeli sale of the Phalcon airborne early-warning
radar to New Dehli, Israeli government sources said. The sources said the
White House move came amid Indian pressure as well as a new drive by
President George Bush to launch the so-called roadmap toward a Palestinian
"There were numerous talks with the administration and they could not
come up with one solid reason not to proceed with the sale except the
Pakistan issue," an Israeli defense source said. "That was an argument that
only India could respond to."
India and Israel have been negotiating for New Dehli's procurement of
the Phalcon since 2001, Middle East Newsline reported. India has expressed interest in three Phalcon
The India Air Force has set a requirement that any early-warning and
control system would be installed in an Il-76 transport plane. Israel plans
to obtain the Ilyushins from Russia.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that the administration
did not place any conditions on the Israeli Phalcon sale to India. Israeli
officials said the Phalcon does not contain any U.S. components.
For the last 18 months, the State Department withheld approval from the
Phalcon sale because of the escalation in tension between India and
Pakistan. Last week, India announced a reconciliation drive with Pakistan,
including the prospect of opening an embassy in Islamabad.
The Phalcon approval was reported as Israel and the United States
continued high-level talks regarding efforts to launch a process for a
Palestinian state. An envoy of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weissglass,
held talks in Washington on late Wednesday with U.S. National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice on the so-called roadmap.
Israeli media reports said on Thursday that Ms. Rice urged Israel to
begin dismantling unauthorized outposts in the West Bank. Later, Ms. Rice
met Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad to discuss Palestinian reform
Last year, the United States formally launched a defense relationship
with India. U.S. defense contractors have already delivered to India the
ANTPQ 37 fire-finding radars, advanced sensors and night-vision systems.
In 2000, Israel, under U.S. pressure, suspended a sale of the Phalcon to
China. Since then, Israel decided it would consult with Washington regarding
major military sales to countries that were not considered allies of the
Haaretz said the administration is also considering a proposal to sell
the Arrow-2 missile defense system to India. The Arrow-2 interceptor is
regarded as a joint U.S.-Israeli missile and Washington has so far not
allowed Israel to export the system. India, South Korea and Turkey have
expressed interest in the Arrow-2 battery.
More than a year ago, Israel delivered the Green Pine early-warning
radar to India. The radar was developed and produced by the state-owned
Israel Aircraft Industries and was said to have tracked Iraqi missile
launches toward Kuwait during the U.S.-led war in March.