"...pictures, taken by a commercial satellite division of Airbus Group and released by IHS Jane's...
Chinese aircraft can patrol the East China Sea with relative ease from bases in eastern China, but can't operate effectively over the Spratlys and other far-flung parts of the South China Sea without refueling and ground support.
The facilities at Fiery Cross Reef could be suitable for that eventually, according to some experts. One possibility is that China would use an airstrip there as a backup for future operations by its first aircraft carrier, which it launched in 2011 and has sent on training operations in the South China Sea.
In the near term, the infrastructure will likely be used more to enhance radar coverage of the area, support a small presence of military personnel, and provide logistics support for ships patrolling the farther reaches of the South China Sea, according to several experts."
An archive of news and resources on East Asian security. Rather than adhering to a particular political agenda, this archive aims to bring together diverse and insightful resources found while conducting research.