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Iai Sources Charge Smear Campaign Against Lavi Fighters in U.S.

Sources at Israel Aviation Industries (IAI) charged Wednesday that an attempt had been made to smear the name of IAI in the U.S. by a lobby opposed to Israel’s second generation jet fighter plane, the Lavi because it might compete on the international market against American fighter aircraft.

The sources, not identified, cited a just published report in Forbes magazine, a leading American business publication, that IAI was forced to recall aircraft wings it had contracted to manufacture for General Dynamics because of defects.

IAI said the faults discovered five months ago were long since corrected. The IAI sources expressed surprise that the story was published now.

The wings in question were for the American F-16 jet fighter which is manufactured by General Dynamics. IAI received a contract for 300 pairs of wings. An IAI spokesman confirmed that the third and fourth sets delivered to General Dynamics were recalled several months ago because a faulty machine had drilled holes in the wrong places.

The error slipped by both IAI quality inspectors and those of General Dynamics stationed in Israel. IAI is presently working on the 19th pair of wings.

Israel has been under some pressure by the Reagan Administration to abandon the Lavi project which is largely financed by the U.S. The Administration contends that the plane is not feasible because the cost per unit would be excessive. Israeli experts have disputed the American cost estimates.

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