South China Sea: China’s Unprecedented Spratlys Building Program


High-resolution satellite images from April 17, 2015 reveal that in the space of ten weeks China has built an island on top of Subi Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands group. The dimensions and shape of the land fill, which is still underway, are compatible with a potential airstrip 3,300 meters long, similar to the prospective length of the runway currently being paved on Fiery Cross, the site of another installation being built by China on a former reef in the Spratlys.

Subi Reef FEB APRIL side by side with red line 2.6MB

Military analysts have observed that a runway 3,300 meters long could support virtually all types of combat and supply aircraft in China’s navy and air force.

As recently as February 6, 2015, only two small sites of dredging and land fill activity were detectable at Subi Reef, part of a maritime region that is claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan, as well as China. As of April 17, 2015, the land fill of Subi measured 2.27 square kilometers in area, on a par with the rapidly manufactured island at Fiery Cross Reef, recently assessed as 2.65 square kilometers in area.


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