I had not given much thought to the flight plan of the airline I recently booked to go back to the U.S. from Vietnam, but recent events in the airspace over the South China Sea prompted an online search. As I discovered, my commercial flight would fly not far from where a U.S. surveillance plane was warned to leave on May 20 by a Chinese radar operator. The P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military’s most advanced surveillance aircraft, was flying near artificial islands that China is constructing, and the order is thought to have come from an early warning radar station on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Island chain, on which the Chinese have been constructing military facilities, which include a 10,000-foot runway. New satellite images show heightened reclamation work by China at seven sites in the Spratlys, adding around 2,000 acres of land since March 2014. Beijing claimed last month that the new islands would provide weather forecasting and search and rescue facilities for the benefit of other countries, while admitting the islands could also be used for military purposes. Also on board the P8-A Poseidon was a television crew from CNN, which recorded the American pilot insisting they… Read full this story
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