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China Completes Construction of Fiery Cross Reef Airstrip on Disputed Spratly Islands

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Published on : Sep 29, 2015

China is slated to soon commence military air patrol over West Philippine Sea. This is following China’s completion of Fiery Cross Reef, which is located in South China Sea on the disputed Spratly Islands.

As per surveillance images taken by Airbus Defense and Space Satellite recently, reveals that the construction of the runway which is expected to be 3,125 meter in length is complete. 
The images reveal the presence of helipads and workers that were engaged in painting work. These workers painted the bearings 050° at one end of the runway and the other at 230° of the runway.
As per imagery available, which suggests that completion of the runway happened in the last couple of weeks will strengthen China’s capabilities for further construction. This includes accelerating infrastructural construction activities and air patrolling activities over the Spratly islands that have been claimed and occupied by a few countries, as stated by a spokesperson of IHS.

Presently, Fiery Cross Reef is the largest base of China and is also its first combat airstrip in operation in the zone. In addition to this, China is also constructing two other airstrips at Mischief Reef and Subi Reef. All the three reefs fall within the area that is claimed by Philippines. 

The Philippean Defense officials had acknowledged that the Chinese airstrips may be utilized by China in order to enforce an Air Defense Interdiction Zone, which will enable China to control air traffic routed through the West Philippine Sea.

According to surveillance images, construction workers are continuing work to construct more structures on the Fiery Cross Reef which include a seawall and road networks. Additionally, a significant feature of the construction that has been carried is dumping of topsoil on the side of the runways. The topsoil has been landscaped to cultivate crop and prevent soil erosion.

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