TEL AVIV (Jun. 22)
The Israel Air Force has announced that it will buy more Kfir jet fighter planes than originally intended. They will replace older aircraft to be phased out. But the main reason for the increased orders appears to be the fast fading hopes of marketing the Israeli-made combat aircraft abroad.
Plans to sell Kfirs to Ecuador were stymied when the United States refused to permit the re-export of those components of the jet, including the engine, that were mode in the U.S. or produced in Israel with American know-how. Austria, which appeared to be a potential customer, has backed out, apparently for political reasons and the U.S. is still withholding permission for sales to Taiwan. By taking more Kfirs, the Israeli Air Force will help keep the production line moving at Israel Aircraft Industries, manufacturers of the Kfir.