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Tuesday, October 12, 2010     GET YOUR INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Chinese warplanes refueled in Iran enroute to NATO exercise in Turkey

ANKARA — Iran has joined Turkey in military cooperation with China.


Turkish sources said Teheran enabled Chinese fighter-jets to refuel in Iranian air space in September. They said the four Chinese Air Force Su-27 combat aircraft had been on their way to Turkey to participate in the NATO-aligned Anatolian Eagle air exercise.

"Four drill-bound Chinese Su-27 warplanes that took off from bases in China refueled in Iran — the first time the Islamic republic has ever allowed foreign warplanes to refuel at its air bases," the Turkish daily Hurriyet said.

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In a report on Oct. 11, Hurriyet reported that the Iranian support for Chinese warplane refueling took place in September. The Turkish newspaper said the Chinese participation in Anatolian Eagle has alarmed the United States.

"Official letters were sent to the two countries prior to the military exercise requesting the use of air space and passage and refueling privileges," Hurriyet said. "The warplanes refueled a second time in Iran on their return to China."

Turkish sources said Iran and Turkey have joined to expand military cooperation with China. They said the Turkish cooperation with Beijing would include military training, exercises and technology development.

Hurriyet said Chinese participation in Anatolian Eagle came after two years of negotiations with Beijing. The report said Turkey has sought to enhance cooperation with China in defense and energy.

The United States tried to stop Turkey from allowing China to participate in Anatolian Eagle, the sources said. They said Washington demanded that the Turkish Air Force ground its F-16 multi-role fighter fleet during maneuvers with the Chinese Su-27.

"We expect you to honor the agreement article that requires the exercise of caution regarding the transfer of technology to third countries," a U.S. message to Ankara, quoted by Hurriyet, read.

In the end, the Turkish Air Force flew its older U.S.-origin F-4 fighter-jets with the Chinese aircraft during Anatolian Eagle. Israel, which has been banned from the exercise since 2009, modernized Turkey's F-4 fleet in the late 1990s.

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