Author Topic: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses  (Read 2174 times)

dr demented

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China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« on: December 14, 2016, 08:51:29 AM »
While apparently defensive in nature, it's still an ominous sign that there are any significant weaponry there at all.

https://amti.csis.org/chinas-new-spratly-island-defenses/

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China’s New Spratly Island Defenses


 Published: December 13, 2016

China appears to have built significant point-defense capabilities, in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS), at each of its outposts in the Spratly Islands. AMTI began tracking the construction of identical, hexagon-shaped structures at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs in June and July. It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron Reefs.

Gaven Reef

China has built nearly identical headquarters buildings at each of its four smaller artificial islands. The two smallest of the islets, Hughes and Gaven Reefs, feature four arms built off of these central structures. The end of each of these arms sports a hexagonal platform, approximately 30 feet wide. The northeastern and southwestern arms host what are most likely anti-aircraft guns (roughly 20 feet long when measured to the tip of the barrel). The other two platforms hold smaller (roughly 10-foot-wide) objects without clearly visible barrels. These cannot be definitively identified, but are likely CIWS to protect against cruise missile strikes, according to the Center for Naval Analyses’ Admiral Michael McDevitt (Ret.) and RAND’s Cortez Cooper in a new podcast.

China modified this blueprint for its facility on Johnson Reef. There the central facility has only two arms, with the southern one sporting the same anti-aircraft gun (which is covered by a tarp in recent imagery but was previously visible) and the northern one an apparent CIWS. Another gun and probable CIWS, along with a radar, were constructed on a separate structure, consisting of three hexagonal towers on the eastern side of the artificial island. This structure seems to be a less complex precursor to those built more recently at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs.

Cuarteron Reef

At Cuarteron Reef, the last of the four smaller artificial islands completed, the point-defense systems have been completely separated from the central headquarters building. The northeastern and southwestern ends of the islet each host a structure identical to the one built at Johnson, including an anti-aircraft gun, probable CIWS, and radar.

This model has gone through another evolution at China’s much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs. Each of these sports four structures, consisting of tiered hexagonal towers oriented toward the sea. They are positioned so that any anti-aircraft guns and CIWS installations placed on them would cover all approaches to the base with overlapping fields of fire. Earlier AMTI imagery of the construction of these buildings showed that each included six hexagonal structures in a ring around a central tower. Since then, three of the outer hexagons have been buried, while the others have been built in a tiered pattern, with those in the front (facing outward), built lower than those behind. All of the structures except one at Fiery Cross are also backed by an even taller tower consisting of several terraces. These towers likely contain targeting radar and other systems necessary for the operation of advanced point defenses. The structure at Fiery Cross lacking this tower is built alongside the base’s runway and may be connected to radar and communications systems at the airport.

Fiery Cross Reef

Construction of all four structures has been completed at Fiery Cross Reef, where covers have been placed over the point defenses installed on the central hexagonal tower and the two in front of it. But the size of the platforms (which matches those at the four smaller artificial islands) and covers suggests they boast systems similar to those at Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron Reefs.

Mischief Reef

At Mischief Reef, two of the four structures have been completed, with covers already placed over the systems installed there. Two others are still being finished, with disturbed soil showing where the three buried chambers were placed. One of those has covers over the front two platforms, while the other has space for a system that has not been installed yet. All three platforms at the fourth structure are empty, but it is clear from the spaces left empty on the platforms that the systems to be installed on the front two will be smaller than the one placed on the central platform. This is consistent with the pattern of larger anti-aircraft guns and probable CIWS seen on the smaller islets.

Subi Reef

At Subi Reef, only one of the four structures seems to have its point defenses already installed, while the others sport empty spaces waiting for guns.

These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea. Among other things, they would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases. They would back up the defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment to the Spratlys of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms, such as the HQ-9 deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands. Such a deployment could happen at any time, and Fox News has reported that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea.

Ayoshi

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2016, 08:49:16 PM »
^ Photos from the same source....

Gaven Reef




Hughes Reef




Johnson Reef




Cuarteron Reef




Fiery Cross Reef




Mischief Reef




Subi Reef


Ayoshi

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2016, 08:52:46 PM »
China’s artificial islands now weaponized | philstar - Updated December 16, 2016
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The Department of National Defense (DND), raising concerns over this latest security development in the South China Sea and West Philipine Sea, is verifying the report.

Earlier, the commander of the United States Pacific Command (PACOM), Navy Admiral Harry Harris Jr., said the US is ready to confront China should the latter insist on enforcing its claims to most of the South China Sea.

Without describing PACOM’s own security monitoring over the disputed region, Harris said China continues to act in an “aggressive” manner in the South China Sea, to which he said the US stands ready to respond.


In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. A U.S. think tank says recent images appear to show that China has installed anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapons on its man-made islands in the South China Sea. The Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a report this week that the anti-aircraft guns and a close-in weapons systems designed to guard against missile attack have been placed on all seven of the islands that China has created by piling sand on top of coral reefs. Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File

Invictus

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2016, 12:55:22 AM »
'China weapons on artificial islands can shoot down PH planes'

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ALL IS NOT WELL IN SOUTH CHINA SEA: A national defense analyst expressed alarm over China’s move to weaponize all the artificial islands it has built in the West Philippine Sea, saying the anti-aircraft guns can be used to shoot down Philippine aircraft in the area.

<snipped>

Acedillo was reacting to the findings of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) which tracked the construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly islands.

<snipped>


Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

sirius

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2016, 06:58:52 AM »
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-philippines-china-idUSKBN1450VE?il=0

Philippines says won't protest China actions in Spratly Islands

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The Philippines would not protest China's moves to militarize its man-made islands in the South China Sea, Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said on Friday, amid Manila's efforts to improve ties with Beijing.

China has deployed anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on the artificial islets it has built in the disputed Spratly Islands, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in findings reported by Reuters this week.

Speaking to reporters in Singapore during an official visit by President Rodrigo Duterte, Yasay said the government will not issue any diplomatic protest to China via a "note verbale".

"We will make sure that there will be no further actions that will heighten the tensions between the two countries, particularly in the Scarborough Shoal," Yasay said, referring to another group of disputed islets.

"Let them take whatever action is necessary in the pursuit of their national interest... and we will leave it at that, for the Philippines, we have our bilateral engagements with China," he said, adding that other countries could deal with any issues.

Ayoshi

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 05:00:48 PM »
China completing facilities on South China Sea islands that could house missiles, says report | IHS Jane's 360 - 22 February 2017
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China has nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, two US officials were quoted by Reuters as saying.

Ayoshi

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2017, 01:48:17 AM »
China installs rocket launchers on disputed Kagitingan Reef – report | GMA news - May 17, 2017
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BEIJING - China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, according to a state-run newspaper, offering new details on China's ongoing military buildup.

China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements, and that it can do what it likes on its own territory.

The United States has criticized what it has called China's militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.

The state-run Defense Times newspaper, in a Tuesday report on its WeChat account, said Norinco CS/AR-1 55-mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems with the capability to discover, identify and attack enemy combat divers had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.

Fiery Cross Reef is administered by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. The Philippines refers to the reef as Kagitingan Reef.

Ayoshi

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 01:14:18 AM »
China's missile system on Philippine-claimed reefs a step closer to airspace control | Philstar - May 3, 2018
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CNBC reported that China quietly deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands.

These three features in the Spratly Islands are also being claimed by Manila.

The missile systems were placed on China's military outposts in the past 30 days, a source told CNBC.

The installment of the missile weapons comes after China deployed military jamming equipment on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.

According to the report, the Chinese YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missile can strike surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the artificial islands.

Meanwhile, the HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missile has the capability to target aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

CNBC also reported that the missile systems were also spotted on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands.
Euan Graham, international security director at Lowy Institute, warned that Beijing may soon deploy combat aircraft in the region.


In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130.

dr demented

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2018, 10:19:15 PM »
https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/china-deploys-long-range-anti-ship-and-anti-air-missiles-to-spratly-islands-for-first-time/

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China Deploys Long-Range Anti-Ship and Anti-Air Missiles to Spratly Islands For First Time

Missiles are unambiguous ‘militarization’ of disputed islands.

By Steven Stashwick
May 05, 2018

China appears to have deployed long-range anti-ship cruise missiles and air-defense missiles to the Spratly Islands, providing the islands with offensive reach for the first time. The move dashes hopes across the region that China would refrain from, or at least limit, its militarization of the extensive bases it has built on reclaimed coral reefs in the heavily disputed islands.

Intelligence sources told CNBC News that China had placed supersonic YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles and HQ-9B anti-air missiles on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to downplay the significance of the deployment, but the White House Press Secretary said that China would face consequences for the missile emplacements and its continued militarization of its Spratlys features, without elaborating on what those might be.

China occupies seven features in the Spratly Islands, and since 2013, it has reclaimed over 3,000 acres of land to build military bases and port facilities on. Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs are the three largest islands China has reclaimed and are home to the most extensive facilities, including command and control, sensor arrays, runways capable of accommodating every military aircraft in the PLA inventory, hardened aircraft shelters, bunkers for fuel and munitions, and emplacements for missile batteries.

China previously deployed short-range missiles and point-defense systems like anti-aircraft guns and close-in-weapons-systems to the islands, designed to defeat incoming missiles. Statements from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the island build-ups and point-defense systems did not constitute “militarization” were a rhetorical strain on the term, but it is true that those earlier systems had mostly defensive utility and were broadly non-threatening.

A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman addressed this new deployment with the same justification it has used for those earlier short-range systems, that they were “national defense facilities.” To reiterate the defensive narrative, the spokeswoman said that no other countries needed to worry about the new anti-ship and anti-air missiles unless they had an “invasive intention.”

This is true to a point, and was likely a jab directed at the United States, which has prepared studies and plans in recent years that depict conducting offensive amphibious operations against Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea. But while anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-air missiles can play a defensive role, unlike the point-defense systems deployed earlier, they are capable of offensive force projection as well. The earlier point-defense systems’ short ranges meant they could engage incoming missiles fired at the bases they were installed on but could not reach the warships or aircraft that fired them, so foreign warships and aircraft operating even in close proximity to the Spratlys did not need to be concerned by them.

However, the long ranges of the YJ-12 and HQ-9 missiles allow them to engage warships and aircraft far beyond the horizon. That range means they can be used for defense by engaging ships and aircraft that are attacking the Spratlys, but also that they can also project control of the sea and airspace around them against ships and aircraft merely traversing the skies around them. Estimates for the YJ-12’s range vary from 160 to 250 nautical miles, though some claim it can reach nearly 300, and the HQ-9B’s range is believed to be around 100 nautical miles. Their placement on Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reefs means that China could theoretically engage ships in most of the southern half of the South China Sea, and engage aircraft flying anywhere in the vicinity of the wider Spratly Islands.

China’s Spratlys Bases Now Unambiguously “Militarized”

President Xi Jinping’s 2015 statement on militarizing the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea has often been mischaracterized as a pledge or promise, when his language – that China did not “intend” to militarize the features it occupied – was diplomatically ambiguous enough to leave room for the option later. Earlier this year, official statements from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and editorials in state papers foreshadowed that China might deploy more substantial forces to the Spratly Islands, ostensibly in response to threat from U.S. warships and plans conducting freedom of navigation operations in their vicinity. Given the non-confrontational nature of those presence operations, however, China is more likely using them as pretext for buildups they intended anyway.

Before the new deployments were revealed, Admiral Philip Davidson, newly confirmed to be head of the U.S. Pacific Command, reported to Congress in May that China appeared to have completed its bases in the Spratly Islands, and that they only lacked deployed forces on them. Once that happened, he assessed that China would be able to use the bases to challenge the United States’ presence in the region, and concluded that China could use the bases to overwhelm any of its neighbors in the South China Sea, and control the region in all scenarios short of war with the United States.

If these missile systems remain on China’s Spratlys bases, no amount of diplomatic rhetoric will placate other South China Sea countries and extra-regional powers like the United States, Japan, and Australia. It seems likely that China will gage the reaction to this deployment to assess whether, or at least how quickly, it can deploy even more capable force-projection systems to the islands, like fighter and bomber aircraft, and conventional ballistic missiles capable of striking ships and bases at even greater distances, even beyond the South China Sea.

Ayoshi

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2018, 08:03:59 AM »
How far can China’s long-range missiles reach in the South China Sea? | Defense News
https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2018/05/04/how-far-can-chinas-long-range-missiles-reach-in-the-south-china-sea/

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Melbourne, Australia ― China’s deployment of long-range missiles to its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea would further consolidate and enhance the country’s physical control over the region and further complicate the movement of American military assets through the area, according to an Asian maritime security expert.

< snipped >

Koh told Defense News that the presence of the missiles, with a reported range of 160 and 295 nautical miles respectively, signifies that China regards the artificial islands as strategically high-value installations and merits the allocation of such resources for protection. The islands were built with sand dredged from the seabed. They are now host to airfields, military installations, supporting infrastructure and ship-berthing spaces.


The range of the HQ-9 surface-to-air missile. (Google)
-

The range of the YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missile. (Google)

dr demented

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2018, 10:47:58 PM »
https://amti.csis.org/accounting-chinas-deployments-spratly-islands/

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An Accounting of China’s Deployments to the Spratly Islands
Published: May 9, 2018

Satellite imagery from April 28 reveals the first confirmed deployment of a military aircraft, a Shaanxi Y-8, on China’s base at Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands. The Y-8 was designed as a military transport aircraft, but some variants are used for maritime patrol or signals intelligence. This should be particularly concerning to the Philippines, which has about 100 civilians and a small military garrison on Thitu Island just 12 nautical miles away.



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With this deployment, military aircraft have now verifiably landed on all three of China’s airstrips in the Spratly Islands. The first was a “naval patrol aircraft,” possibly a Y-8 or similar plane, which landed at Fiery Cross Reef in April 2016 to evacuate three personnel who had fallen ill. Last month, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published an aerial photo dated January 6 showing two Xian Y-7 military transport aircraft on Mischief Reef. That landing was especially galling for the Philippines because an arbitral tribunal in 2016 ruled that Mischief Reef is a piece of the Philippine continental shelf.



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In addition to patrol and transport planes, China has recently deployed other military platforms to the “Big Three” outposts at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs. On April 9, the Wall Street Journal published satellite imagery commissioned by the U.S. government that showed military jamming equipment mounted on three trucks on Mischief Reef in March. The article cited a U.S. official who said the jamming systems were deployed to Fiery Cross Reef as well. AMTI has confirmed the systems were visible in satellite imagery of Mischief from at least mid-February, and were still present as of May 6, although placed under covers.



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Then on May 2, CNBC, citing U.S. intelligence sources, reported that China had deployed YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles and HQ-9B surface-to-air missile systems on each of the reefs as part of military exercises in early April. China constructed missile shelters on the islands in early 2017, but the April deployment was the first confirmed placement of such platforms on the islands. It is unclear whether those missile platforms are still on the islands or were removed following the exercises (they would be difficult to confirm via imagery if kept inside shelters or other buildings).

Most of China’s recent deployments in the Big Three followed a pattern set earlier at Woody Island, its largest outpost and administrative seat in the Paracel Islands. From harbor dredging and runway improvements to hangar and radar construction, upgrades at Woody Island have served as a blueprint for things to come on China’s Spratly holdings to the south. Unsurprisingly, China deployed HQ-9s and anti-ship cruise missiles (YJ-62s) to Woody in 2016. Satellite imagery also captured five Y-8 aircraft on the island in November 2017.



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With similar platforms now seen on the Big Three, it is reasonable to look at other recent Woody Island deployments as signs of things to come at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs. China has repeatedly deployed J-10 and J-11 fighter jets to Woody Island. In late October 2017, the Chinese military released images and video of J-11Bs on Woody for exercises. And satellite imagery confirmed earlier deployments of J-11s to the island in April 2016 and March 2017. Considering that China has built identical hangars for combat aircraft at Woody and on each of the Big Three, it is likely that J-10s or J-11s will soon find their way south to the Spratly Islands.



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Satellite imagery from April 2016 also captured what are believed to be Harbin Z-8 transport helicopters and a Harbin BZK-005 drone deployed to Woody Island. The BZK-005 is a high altitude, long endurance surveillance drone that is well suited to maritime patrol. Similar deployments to the Spratlys would not be surprising.



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The current and expected deployments of air and missile platforms in the Paracels and Spratlys are steadily expanding Chinese power projection capabilities from its outposts.

Tracking Surface Ships

The Big Three host both air and naval bases, and they support an ever-growing People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), China Coast Guard (CCG), and fishing fleet presence across the southern portion of the South China Sea. Satellite images show that PLAN destroyers, frigates, and other combat ships and CCG patrol vessels regularly visit the artificial islands, along with many auxiliary and logistics vessels. Admittedly, relying on satellite imagery, which captures only those ships that happen to be in port (as opposed to out on patrol) at a specific moment in time, provides a limited picture of naval and coast guard deployments. But the ubiquity of PLAN and CCG ships in images of Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs since the start of 2017 suggests how robust the PLAN and CCG presence at the island bases has become.



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AMTI has identified as many PLAN and CCG vessels as possible in imagery taken since January 2017, and has selected representative images of each vessel class, below. For instance, several varieties of the PLAN Type 053 frigate were seen at the Big Three, including what appear to be Type 053H1, Type 053H1G, and Type 053H3 frigates.

The Type 051B Luhai-class destroyer comprises just one ship— the DDG 167 Shenzhen. When it was built in the 1990s, the Shenzhen was the largest surface combatant in the PLAN, though it has been followed by several newer models of destroyer. The PLAN recently overhauled the Shenzhen’s outdated weapons systems to bring it more in line with modern combat needs.

Imagery shows Type 056 Jiangdao-class corvettes visiting the islands, including a shot in June 2017 where two corvettes were tied up at the same dock on Mischief Reef.

Several different Type 072 landing ships, as well as a Type 073A landing ship, have been seen at the Big Three. The larger Type 072 landing ships are capable of transporting and landing tanks, heavy vehicles, and air-cushioned hovercraft in amphibious operations. The medium-sized Type 073A carries smaller tanks or troops for similar operations.

Two AGI signals intelligence gathering ships, a Hai Yang and a Type 815G, were seen in the harbors of the Spratly outposts. The type 815G appears to be the 852 Haiwangxing, which was spotted in 2017 monitoring the U.S.-Australian Talisman Sabre joint exercise.

In addition to several of the same types of ships AMTI has reported on patrol in the Luconia Shoals off the coast of Malaysia, China Coast Guard ships seen at the outposts include several former PLAN Jianghu-class 053H1 frigates, redubbed Jianghu-1 WFF ships.

Lastly, alongside the combatant and law enforcement vessels, an array of support ships, including tankers, tugboats, and replenishment vessels, as well as a Type 639 oceanographic surveillance ship have been seen.


Ayoshi

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Re: China’s New Spratly Island Defenses
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2018, 08:08:12 PM »
Vietnam asks China to withdraw military equipment from South China Sea | Reuters - MAY 8, 2018
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HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam has asked China to withdraw military equipment from the South China Sea, following media reports this month that China had installed missiles there.

“Vietnam requests that China, as a large country, shows its responsibility in maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea,” Vietnamese foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a Tuesday statement, referring to the South China Sea.

U.S. news network CNBC reported this month that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its outposts in the South China Sea, citing sources with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence reports.