Russian aerospace engineers have confirmed to Jane's that China's Chengdu J-10 fighter aircraft benefited from significant, direct input from Israel's Lavi programme - including access to the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Lavi aircraft itself.
In a number of interviews Jane's has talked at length with several engineers, designers and technical specialists - some of whom have been working with their Chinese counterparts for decades and have had first-hand experience on Chinese military projects. They have provided detailed accounts of the assistance given to various Chinese manufacturers and their military aircraft projects. This has included extensive design and performance modelling, wind-tunnel testing and advanced aerodynamic design input.
Senior Russian engineers who spoke to Jane's recalled their many visits to Chengdu, and elsewhere in China, some of which began in the 1980s. Jane's was told how Chengdu officials of the highest level stated how they had one of the IAI Lavi prototypes in their facilities. Describing his conversations with Chengdu concerning possession of a Lavi aircraft, one Jane's source commented: "I did not consider that to be a revelation ... doesn't everyone know that already?"
It is not possible to independently verify the Russian comments. The charge of Lavi technology transfer has been made before, but this time the claims come from individuals with sustained personal experience of the programme. Both Chinese and Israeli officials have long refuted any purported links between the J-10 and the Lavi.