New Photos Show Details About China’s Military Bases In South China Sea
- China has made South China Sea islands and reefs full-fledged military base.
- Photos taken in October show these bases in great detail. They reveal Beijing’s forces, facilities, and more.
- Officials in the US warn that the bases are part China’s plans for expanding its power beyond its borders.
See the South China Sea’s island bases of China. Check out these stunning images that Ezra Acayan, a Getty Images photographer, captured in October.
They show military aircraft and warships based in the Spratly Islands. The Spratly Islands are located approximately 400 miles away from the Chinese coast. Beijing has used both artificial islands and natural islands to expand its military capabilities.
“The function of those Islands is to expand the offensive capabilities of the PRC beyond the continental shores,” Adm. John Aquilino of US Indo-Pacific Command warned March. He was referring specifically to the country’s official name, The People’s Republic of China.
Aquilino stated that Chinese forces can fly fighters, bombers, and all the offensive capabilities of missile system, such as anti-ship missiles and anti-aircraft missiles from these bases. the Associated PressAt the time, the islands were fully militarized.
Airbases in the Islands
This photo shows Subi Reef’s airfield, which China claimed in 1988. It has been built up to create a large artificial island large enough for military installations.
You can clearly see a double runway, hangars, as well as multi-story administrative buildings.
Missile boats and antiship missiles
This Mischief Reef photo shows Chinese Type 022 Houbei-class fast attack boatsThese are catamarans armed by YJ83 anti-ship missiles.
What might be covered launchers are also visible from shore land-based missiles. Tom Shugart, a naval expert from the Center for a New American Security, said The TelegraphGarages facing the sea could hold “angled cruise missile launchesers.”
Gun emplacements at Cuarteron Reef
In 2016, observers detected gun emplacementsCuarteron Reef. Acayan’s photo shows these weapons stations in more detail.
Many towers can be seen with what analysts call “tiered towers”. 76 mm naval gunsOn the lower two levels, you can see. The gun director could be visible above the guns, and the large dome that likely houses some radar is located above them all.
Chinese airborne radar aircraft on runway
This photo shows the Chinese KJ-500 early warning aircraft, which is airborne from China. It was seen on Fiery Cross Reef’s runway. The KJ-500 is based in part on the Y-9 Transport, China’s equivalent of the US’s C-130 Hercules.
The presence of a KJ500 indicates that Fiery Cross Reef runways have the length to handle larger aircraft. However, the hangars are large enough to accommodate H-6 Bombers.
According to Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach of the US Pacific Air Forces (US Pacific Air Forces), the KJ-500 “plays an important role” in China’s ability use long-range weapons. saidThis spring, adding “some of their very short-range air-to–air missiles were aided by that KJ500.”
Port for Chinese warships
This photo of Fiery Cross Reef shows semi-enclosed waters, facilities and other features that make the island an effective naval base.
According to the Associated Press, more than 40 vessels of various types are anchored near Fiery Cross.
These islands are home to many sports fields
The striking thing about this photo of Fiery Cross Reef are not the buildings and runway, but the sports field. It appears to include a running track as well as an athletic field.
This suggests that there is a significant Chinese presence.
The field is large enough to warrant such an amenity because it is marked.
China’s expanding reach
China is strategically important to the Spratly Islands. They allow Beijing to project air power and naval power hundreds of kilometres further than the Chinese mainland. China can also position its forces closer to critical areas through the bases. chokepoints between the Indian and Pacific oceans.
China has been willing and able to use force to keep control of the Spratlys. These Spratlys are geographically closer than Vietnam, the Philippines, or Malaysia. After capturing Johnson South Reef in 1988, Chinese forces took it over. battling Vietnamese ships and troopsOver the disputed island
The Chinese bases are not only a concern for the US. Many countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have claimed the Spratlys and other specks in the South China Sea. (Vietnam acceleratedAccording to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, the Spratlys will see the expansion of its outposts by the end 2022.
These bases have a tremendous value that cannot be understated. They are small in size, have flat and open terrain, and are far from mainland China, making them vulnerable to attack, blockade, and invasion during wartime. However, they serve as a reminder of China’s military reach into the most important waterways of the world.
Michael Peck, a defense writer, has had his work published in Forbes, Defense News magazine, Foreign Policy magazine, among other publications. He holds a master’s degree in political science. Follow him on Twitter LinkedIn.
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