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Thursday, September 17, 2015

China's New Airstrip to Heighten Underwater Rivalry

Mischief ReefChina's apparent construction of a third airstrip on its man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea could fill a gap in Beijing's anti-submarine defences, complicating operations for the US Navy and its allies, Chinese and Western experts said.

While most attention has been on the power projection China would get from its new islands in the Spratly archipelago, China could also use them to hunt rival submarines in and beyond the strategic waterway, they said.

Possessing three airstrips more than 1,400 km (870 miles) from the Chinese mainland would enable Beijing to extend the reach of Y-9 surveillance planes and Ka-28 helicopters that are being re-equipped to track submarines, the experts added.

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