- - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In an obvious bid to continue the planned militarization of disputed territory in the South China Sea, Chinese fighter aircraft have been spotted, along with recently deployed anti-aircraft missile systems, on Woody Island, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. Woody Island is the largest island in the Paracel chain of islands in the South China Sea.

“Satellite imagery from ImageSat International (ISI) taken on April 7 and authenticated by U.S. defense officials Tuesday show two Chinese Shenyang J-11 fighter jets on Woody Island. The Chinese J-11s, known as “Flankers” by the Pentagon first entered service in 1998. They are a modified version of the Russian Sukhoi Su-27, comparable to a U.S. Air Force F-15 or Navy F/A-18 Hornet,” reported Fox News.

Military control of the islands in dispute would give a government the ability to control a large portion of global sea trade which frequently transits the area. Radar and fire control systems for a Chinese variant of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system have also been confirmed on the island, with missile batteries ready to fire. The Chinese HQ-9 radar system has a range of approximately 125 miles and is able to threaten civilian as well as American military reconnaissance aircraft.

U.S. ships and planes frequently transit near the islands to keep watch on Chinese activity as well as to preserve freedom of navigation rights. These military maneuvers greatly anger Chinese officials and is most likely the reason the offensive systems are being deployed.

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