Build It And They Will Come: China Preps Spratlys For Military Aircraft
Civilian planes landed on Subi and Mischief reefs for the first time on July 12, giving China three operational runways in the disputed Spratly Islands. Except for a brief visit by a military transport plane to Fiery Cross Reef earlier this year, there is no evidence that Beijing has deployed military aircraft to these outposts. But the rapid construction of reinforced hangars at all three features indicates that this is likely to change. Each of the three islets will soon have hangar space for 24 fighter-jets plus 3-4 larger planes.
The construction on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs follows a standard blueprint. The smallest and most numerous hangars are being built with four to six hangars per building. They can easily accommodate any fighter-jet in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force or Naval Aviation, including the J-11 and Su-30. The second type of hangar is large enough for the H-6 bomber and H-6U refueling tanker, Y-8 transport aircraft, and KJ200 Airborne Warning and Control System plane. The largest of the hangars can accommodate the largest planes in the Chinese fleet — the Y-20 and Il-76 transport planes, Il-78 refueling tanker, and KJ-2000 surveillance aircraft.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reports.