J-10 fighter jets from the August 1st Aerobatics Team of the People's Liberation Army Air Force take off from a military base in China.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran is beginning to reap the fruits of its nuclear deal with the world powers.
According to a report in the Taiwanese press, China is set to provide the Islamic Republic with 24 J-10 fighter jets.
In exchange, Iran will permit China access to its largest oil field for the next 20 years. The total estimated value of the deal is $1 billion.
The J-10, which is known by the moniker “Vigorous Dragon,” is an advanced combat aircraft that foreign sources say is based on the original designs of the Lavi, an Israeli prototype whose manufacturing was canceled in the 1980s.
The Lavi was built and developed by Israel Aircraft Industries (since 2006 called Israel Aerospace Industries), though the government eventually decided to terminate the program due to the high costs of production and after the US offered to sell Israel F-16s as an alternative. After the cancellation, the Israeli government resolved to sell the plans to China.
The J-10 is a single-engine aircraft that has a flight range of 2,900 kilometers. Iran is believed to be interested in procuring the jet in order to defend its skies as well as to attack targets throughout the Persian Gulf.
According to defense analysts, Israel and the US are concerned about the emerging deal, which, if executed, could complicate foreign armies’ efforts to act freely in the region.