An unexpected military cooperative exercise between China and Turkey has caught the eye of Washington-based analysts.
The two air forces were involved in a joint air exercise in the central Anatolian province of Konya, the first such exercise involving the air forces of China (People’s Liberation Army Air Force – PLAAF) and NATO member Turkey.
Part of the significance is that the PLAAF recently demonstrated major advances in long-range strike during their own “Peace Mission 2010.”
The latest joint exercise, “Anatolian Eagle,” in the past has been conducted jointly with the U.S. Air Force, other NATO air forces and the Israeli Air Force.
Ankara’s Zama newspaper reported that Turkish F-16s and Chinese Su-27s staged a mock dogfight. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao plans a visit to Turkey next month where several agreements on economic and cultural cooperation are expected to be signed. Chinese aircraft, including the JF-17 export fighter, stopped in Turkey to refuel on the way to last summer’s Farnborough air show.
Turkey flies 200 F-16s, 150 RF/F-4s and 75 F-5s.
Another sign that Turkey is changing its international stance is modification of its security policy to remove some of its neighboring countries from a list of those considered as national security threats and the exclusion of the IAF from its exercises.