In a November 12 press briefing State Department spokesman James Rubin said the U.S. government had "no reason to believe" that the Israeli radar contained any U.S.-controlled technology and therefore American law could not prohibit the sale. However, Rubin stressed that the U.S. regularly holds discussions with Israel on arms sales, particularly ones that involve "sophisticated technology."
Though receipt of the Israeli Phalcon radar system, which enables surveillance activities up to a range of 250 miles, will give China its first AEW capability, the benefit to the Chinese air force will be restricted by a number of practical factors, including the limited time that a single plane can be in service. Beijing will also have to train new crews to operate the plane and will be dependent upon Israel for future maintenance. The initial contract, signed in 1996, called for Israel to equip four Russian-manufactured IL-76 planes with the Phalcon radar, costing $250 million apiece, but Beijing may postpone radar installation on and delivery of the three remaining planes for budgetary reasons and to assess the performance of the first plane.Israel and China have a history of arms deals and military cooperation dating back to 1979, including work on air-to-air missiles and China's latest indigenously built fighter aircraft, the J-10. On an October visit to Israel, Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian reportedly discussed Israeli upgrade of China's aging MiG-21 fleet.