Beijing Shocks US With Unbelievable Progress of Airstrip in South China Sea

Friday, April 17, 2015
By Paul Martin

SputnikNews.com
17.04.2015

New satellite imagery shows the extent of China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross Reef could soon serve as a military-grade runway in the middle of the ocean. And despite its own military presence in the region, US officials are in panic.

Dredging sand from the seafloor, the Chinese government has been steadily building artificial landmasses atop sunken reefs in the Spratly Islands archipelago. In part, the islands will be used to bolster emergency response in the region. But Beijing also says the islands will be used as military defense posts, which worries officials in Washington, already concerned about a growing Chinese influence.

Images obtained by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly from Airbus Defence and Space show just how rapid the island growth has been. With construction beginning only last year, Fiery Cross Reef is now home to China’s first airstrip in the South China Sea. With 503 metered already paved, the runway could be as long as 3,000 meters once completed. That’s long enough to support heavy military transport planes and fighter jets, according to Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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