Monday, May 28, 2012

New PLA airforce base in Fujian sets sights on East China Sea

A satellite view of the Shuimen air base
The air base in Shuimen is about 70km from Taiwan’s Dongyin Island, where the military has deployed radar and surface-to-air missiles 

More information about a new airbase in China’s Fujian Province emerged over the weekend, with military intelligence sources saying the base appeared to be designed to bolster China’s claim to sovereignty over islets in the East China Sea.

Distances from Shuimen
Military sources said construction at Shuimen air base, located on a hilltop along the coast in Shuimen Township, was nearing completion. Satellite images of the airbase first emerged in 2009, with intelligence sources saying China had cleared a swathe of more than 2km at an altitude of 364m to make way for the airbase, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported over the weekend.

More recent satellite imagery of the area showed J-10 multirole combat aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) deployed at the base, with Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) being gradually introduced.
Presumably TELs at Shuimen
S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries have also been spotted at the base, the report said. These could be part of the two battalions, or eight batteries, of more advanced S-300PMU1 systems ordered from Russia in 2001, a US$400 million deal that included 32 transporter erector launchers (TEL) and a total of 198 missiles. The missile batteries could also be HQ-9s, a Chinese derivative of the S-300. The base is situated 246km from Taipei and 380km from the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), over which Taiwan, China and Japan claim sovereignty. 

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here. My article on the same subject for JDW can be accessed here (subscription required).


Anonymous said...

Another interesting article :

How could the world not understand what is China true will now...

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

@Anon: Many thanks for this; interesting — and worrying — stuff indeed.