MANILA – China has deployed a military aircraft to a base it built on a reclaimed island in the South China Sea, photos from an American think tank released Wednesday confirmed.
A Shaanxi Y-8 is shown in an airstrip in a base built by China on Subi Reef. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
AMTI said the Y-8 was “designed as a military transport aircraft, but some variants are used for maritime patrol or signals intelligence.”
“This should be particularly concerning to the Philippines, which has about 100 civilians and a small military garrison on Thitu Island just 12 nautical miles away,” the think tank said.
It added, with the recent deployment, military aircraft have landed on all three of China’s airstrips in the Spratly Islands after a naval patrol aircraft also landed at Fiery Cross Reef in April 2016 and 2 Xian Y-7 military transport aircraft were seen on Mischief Reef in a photo dated January 6.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled in 2016 that Mischief Reef is part of the Philippine continental shelf.