China has begun building an airstrip on a third artificial island in the South China Sea which is going to strengthen Beijing’s military capacity in the contested waters according to analysts from the West. The images of the constructions were identified via new satellite images. Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington have released the photos that depict preparation for airfields on Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, submerged reefs in the contested Spratly Islands that China has transformed into islands, according to the center.
James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly claimed that the installation of the airstrip on Mischief Reef which is about 20 miles from a small Philippine military garrison on an existing tiny island will put under great pressure. That airstrip will most likely be used for turboprop patrol, but it could easily be equipped for full military action if needed. The most important function of the strip, he said, will be as yet another site for Chinese listening devices and early warning radar, much like the technology being installed on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands of the South China Sea, which are also contested.
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