Satellite photos taken in late July show that China appear to have built reinforced aircraft hangars in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of CSIS said that China is rapidly constructing the hangars in 3 features of the Spratlys Islands located in the West Philippine Sea.
According to AMTI, each of the three islets that China is constructing will soon be accommodating 24 fighter-jets and 3-4 larger planes. China has stated that the islands in construction are for more serving all forms of civil needs and other causes and added that it is also to reinforce its claims of sovereignty.
|Subi reef construction (Photo from rappler.com)|
Political Science Professor M. Taylor Fravel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technoligy, explained that the hangars "were not constructed directly in response to the July 12 ruling and that construction is part of the overall development plan for the islands probably began about 6 months ago.
|Mischief reef construction (Photo from rappler.com)|
|Fiery Cross reef construction (Photo from rappler.com)|
In particular, in the future, the hangars give China the option to base or rotate military aircraft on the islands, either on a temporary basis or a permanent basis. The key question is not the construction of the hangars, which is expected given the airfields, but how China intends to use them," Fravel said.
Experts, during a recent Chinese-organized forum in Singapore, said China can use its artificial islands for "public service" in the Asia Pacific and that it can help China and its Southeast Asian neighbors in raising more efficient disaster response, among other things.