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Chinese F-8s carried Israeli missiles

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Videotape released by the Pentagon shows an Israeli missile attached to a Chinese F-8 fighter  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Chinese fighter jets sent to intercept recent U.S. reconnaissance flights near China have been carrying air-to-air missiles sold to China by Israel, much to the annoyance of some U.S. defense officials.

The Chinese F-8 fighters captured on videotapes released by the Pentagon are carrying Israeli made Python III air-to-air missiles capable of blasting a plane out of the sky with the squeeze of a finger, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

"Generally speaking, we are not in favor of such capable weapons systems being proliferated to a variety of nations around the world," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley told reporters Tuesday.

New video released by the Pentagon shows a Chinese pilot flying so close to a U.S. plane his hand gestures are visible

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"That's a good missile, and its capabilities are considerable," Quigley said.

A senior defense official familiar with arms agreements between the United States and Israel said "there has not been any violation here," perhaps in part because the sale of the missiles was made in the late 1970s, he said.

The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, said "We don't particularly like going up against hardware made by Israel."

"Here we are bending over backward to give Israel a qualitative edge and they are selling hardware to our adversaries," the somewhat exasperated defense official said.

Referring to the April 1 incident involving a collision between a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance plane, the Defense Department official said that the decades-old Israeli missiles "would have worked just fine" had the second Chinese fighter been given the order to shoot down the U.S. plane with its crew of 24.

Though the sale of the missiles was years ago, the United States was not made aware of Israel's plans to sell the missiles to China until after the sale was complete, according to the Pentagon.

Quigley said that "..the government of Israel informed the government of the United States that they had sold the Python missile to the Chinese after the sale had been done."

Israel had agreed last year to sell China a technologically advanced airborne early warning radar system similar to the U.S. AWACS aircraft, but the deal was scuttled after loud and angry objections from the United States.

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U.S. Navy factfile: The EP-3
U.S. Dept of Defense
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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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