Alwaght- The Chinese military has deployed its latest airborne early warning and control aircraft to an air base in the vicinity of the South China Sea islands.
The imagery provided by DigitalGlobe Company shows a number of Shaanxi KJ-500 and KJ-200 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft at the Jialaishi Air Base in the northern part of China’s Hainan Island, Defense News reported on Friday.
According to the news outlet, this is the first time China has stationed its state-of-the-art KJ-500 aircraft in Hainan.
The KJ-500, bearing a distinctive radar antenna over the fuselage, is equipped with a “dorsal radar dish mounting a phased array radar with three fixed arrays angled at 120 degrees relative to each other for all-round coverage.”
The new aircraft are expected to replace the ageing KJ-200s currently in service with the Chinese military. The large radar array provides for better situation awareness and allows guidance and control of enemy and friendly aircraft, while smaller radars installed on the nose and rear fuselage ensure additional coverage.
Earlier on Thursday, the Philippines moved troops and equipment to a disputed island in the South China Sea which is claimed by both Manila and Beijing, according to Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario, head of the Philippines military’s Western Command. Troops and materiel arrived at Pag-asa Island last week – a move which triggered a harsh response from China.
One day earlier, a top US Navy commander said American vessels will continue to operate in the area regardless of Beijing’s reaction. “US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea,” US Navy Commander Gary Ross told the South China Morning Post newspaper in an email.
The South China Sea has been witnessing rising tensions fueled by the United States hegemonic policies apparently aimed at preventing the meteoric rise of China as a counterbalance in the region and globally.