18 September 2015
China’s apparent construction of a third airstrip on its man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea could fill a gap in Beijing’s anti-submarine defences, complicating operations for the United States Navy and its allies, Chinese and Western experts said.
While most attention has been focused on the power projection China would get from its new islands in the Spratly archipelago, China could also use them to hunt rival submarines in and beyond the strategic waterway, they said.
Possessing three airstrips more than 1,400km from the Chinese mainland would enable Beijing to extend the reach of Y-9 surveillance planes and Ka-28 helicopters that are being re-equipped to track submarines, the experts added.
“If it is able to enforce its control over the airspace and waters over the Spratlys, there is a good chance that China will be in a better position to impose itself in the first island chain that stretches from Taiwan to the Malay Peninsula,” said Mr James Char, a research analyst with the China Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 16/11/2015