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Turkish-Chinese war games

The Pentagon said Wednesday that the Turkish government promised to protect U.S. defense technology during its recent military exercises with China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) — drills that analysts say may have compromised key NATO war-fighting secrets.

Army Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, a Pentagon spokeswoman, confirmed European press reports of the unusual aerial military exercises last month involving U.S.-made Turkish jets and Chinese Su-27 fighters that engaged in simulated aerial combat.

“The government of Turkey is committed to the NATO Alliance and the continuation of strong ties to the United States, and Turkey assured us they would take the utmost care related to their possession of U.S. and NATO technologies,” Col. Parker told Inside the Ring.

However, she did not address the issue of whether the Chinese military might have learned sensitive NATO aerial combat information.

Jane’s Defense Weekly, quoting Turkish diplomatic sources, stated that the exercises involved less-capable U.S.-made F-4s and Chinese Su-27s, but not more advanced U.S.-made F-16s.

Ed Timperlake, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and former Pentagon technology security official, said allowing the Chinese air force to exercise with a NATO ally poses security risks.

“‘You fight like you train’ is a saying from Top Gun school,” Mr. Timperlake said. “The Turkish air force helping the PLAAF to see NATO combat tactics and training up close and personal is a very bad idea. It is deadly serious stuff.”

Mr. Timperlake said the exercises and Turkey’s warming relations with neighboring Iran should lead the Pentagon to rethink its decision to sell the new F-35 jet to Turkey.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on China's military at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, also criticized Turkey’s military for conducting aerial exercises with a communist power that poses a threat to U.S. and allied security interests in Asia. “It’s not a good thing,” he said.

Mr. Fisher said Turkey in the late 1990s used Chinese technology to jointly develop short-range B611 missiles.

The Tehran Press TV Online reported on Monday that Iran opened its airspace to the Turkish and Chinese jets.

“All of this raises questions about Turkey’s continued slide away from the West,” Mr. Fisher said.

The joint Turkish-Chinese war games also were held before the scheduled visit to Turkey by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Moynihan on Gates

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