90 Miles From Tyranny : Eight Chinese Fighter Jets Show up at Woody Island in the South China Sea

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Eight Chinese Fighter Jets Show up at Woody Island in the South China Sea

Eight Chinese fighter jets were visible Friday at its key military base in the disputed Paracel Islands, as two U.S. aircraft carriers performed their second exercise in the South China Sea in two weeks amid mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Satellite imagery reviewed by RFA showed the Chinese planes on the runway at Woody Island. At least four of them appeared to be J-11Bs, which are fighter jets in service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and Naval Aviation Force (PLANAF). The other four appear similar to and fit the dimensions of the JH-7, an anti-ship fighter-bomber in service with the PLAAF and PLANAF as well.

Experts said it was the most fighter aircraft that have been spotted at one time at Woody Island, which is China’s largest military base and settlement in the Paracels, a grouping of features in the north of the South China Sea that is claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Military aircraft have shown up at Woody Island before, as have Chinese warships, most notably during China’s military exercises in the area from July 1-5.

Forbes reported the presence of four J-11Bs at Woody Island on Wednesday, but they were not in the same place on Thursday. They reappeared with the four other fighter aircraft on Friday.

Their presence points to growing militarization of Chinese-occupied features in the South China Sea, and increased displays of military power by both China and the U.S. It also coincides with another round of naval exercises Thursday involving two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups – the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan. The first maneuvers began on July 4 and lasted six days, the first such “dual carrier drill” by the U.S. in the South China Sea in at least four years.

“Alongside like-minded regional partners, these efforts are in direct support of U.S. resolve to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows," said Commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Bill Merz, in a statement. "The capability and flexibility of our Navy is on full display as we support Indo-Pacific security and stability. There is no better example of our regional commitment, and periodically we will bring multiple teams together in 7th Fleet to practice large-scale coordinated operations."
The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton transit the Balabac Strait, which connects the South China Sea with the Sulu Sea in this July 15, 2020 photo. The Nimitz is currently on a military drill in the South China Sea. Credit: U.S. Navy.

The maneuvers also come after the U.S. performed a freedom of navigation exercise on Wednesday through the Spratly Islands, which China considers part of its territory on the basis of “historic rights.” That followed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement this week of a new U.S. position on China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, calling China’s claims to low-tide elevations in the Spratlys and to the waters around land features in the area “illegal” under international law.

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selsey.steve said...

I'm halfway through an old book by Tom Clancy called SSN. It's about the outbreak of was between China and the US. The action takes place around the Spratly Islands. I've just read a section where a US SSN has transited the Balabac Strait after sinking a Chinese Submarine.

selsey.steve said...

"... outbreak of WAR..."
Damned dyslexic fingers!

selsey.steve said...
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selsey.steve said...
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