Two American Stratofortress bombers flew within 12 miles of the disputed islands.
On Dec. 10, two U.S. Air Force B-52 strategic bombers on a routine long-range mission flew within 12 nautical miles (the standard boundary of the territorial waters) of one of the seven Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea, sparking China’s protests.
Although Washington has not taken an official stance on sovereignty claims surrounding the islands it does maintain that China’s new islands do not enjoy the traditional 12NM territorial limit. However, according to the Pentagon, the aircraft were not flying a so-called “freedom of navigation” mission (a pre-planned navigation used to assert U.S. rights to “innocent passage” in or close to other nation’s territorial waters): one of the aircraft flew within 2 miles of an artificial island along unintentional route. Interesting, since “navigation errors” are a bit surprising on long-range bombers equipped with redundant GPS, INS systems that should make their navigation quite accurate.
A P-8A Poseidon from Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 captures surveillance footage of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) conducting land reclamation operations in the South China Sea.
On May 20, a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft belonging to Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 conducted a routing surveillance flight over the South China Sea, where has started building an airstrip on the disputed Spratly Islands in the waters claimed by the Philippines.
During the flight, the crew of the P-8A documented several warnings, issued by China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), most probably on the International Emergency (“Guard”) frequency 121.5 MHz, to leave the area as the U.S. military plane was approaching their military alert zone.
Interestingly, the U.S. aircraft replies to the Chinese Navy operators urging it to leave their area “quickly” as follows:
“Station calling U.S. military plane, please identify yourself”.
Then, after receiving confirmation that it was a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) operator, the answer is always the same: “I’m a U.S. military aircraft conducting lawful military activities outside national airspace; I’m operating with due regard as required under International Law.”
The audio seems to be disturbed by some kind of jamming.
Anyway, according to the U.S. Navy, the P-8 mission documented the continued expansion of reefs which have been turned into man-made islands with airport infrastructure in the South China Sea.
Bombers and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft head towards the Pacific.
It looks like the U.S. Air Force is planning to deploy some strategic bombers and surveillance aircraft in Australia to put some pressure on China amid South China Sea tensions.
The South China Sea is the subject of several territorial claims. China claims sovereignty on some island chains and waters that are within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam
This year, China has started building an airstrip on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea waters claimed by the Philippines.
According to FP, the Defense Department’s Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Shear, during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 13, said that along with moving U.S. Marines and Army units around the region, the Pentagon will deploy air assets in Australia, “including B-1 bombers and surveillance aircraft.”
The U.S. Air Force ISR aircraft, possibly unmanned Global Hawk drones, will monitor activities around the disputed islands, whereas the “Bone” heavy bombers will serve as a deterrent to challenge Beijing aggressive ownership claims.
U.S. strategic bombers have already been temporarily deployed to Australia, to take part in exercises with the Royal Australian Air Force, in 2012 and at the end of 2014 as a consequence of a joint Force Posture Initiative signed in 2011 to train together to face threats in the Pacific.
According to Xinhuanet, China cautioned the U.S. against taking any actions in the region, urging Washington “not to take any risks or make any provocations so as to maintain regional peace and stability.”
Most probably, not. However, the artworks are interesting.
Although China is known to be working also on a new stealth fighter bomber, we don’t know much about the H-20, as the aircraft is believed to be dubbed.
The long-range strike aircraft should be built around the concept of a subsonic, radar evading, flying wing configuration and some scale models have even appeared at aviation exhibitions.
While previous artworks depicted shapes of Beijing’s LRS (long-range strike) inspired to several existing U.S. planes, including the F-117 Nighthawk, the YF-23 and the B-2, a new image has recently popped up on the prolific Chinese Internet.
It shows a manned tactical plane, with internal weapons bay as well as external pylons which carry stand-off missiles. The cockpit reminds the one of the Soviet-era Su-24 Fencer, a side-by-side two-seater.
The “new” shape seems like an evolution of previous concepts, even though it may well be just fan art.
Last but not least, the new stealth bomber is depicted as flying over the disputed Senkaku islands.
China-made airlifter (that looks like a C-17/A-400M hybrid) is one of the highlights of Zhuhai airshow.
The Stealthy J-31 “Falcon Eagle” is not the only highlight of the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition: the Y-20 a brand new military cargo plane that made its maiden flight on Jan. 26, 2013 is also taking part in the Zhuhai airshow, which starts next week in China.
The Chinese airlifter arrived at Zhuhai from Xi’an Yanliang Airport at 11:54AM LT after a 3-hour flight, on Nov. 5.
The following video shows the Y-20 land at the end of its practice display and park in the apron reserved to the large aircraft, close to the Boeing C-17 of the UAE Air Force, supporting the Al Fursan display team.