China’s deployable radar spotted in PH-claimed reef in West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — An aerostat radar has been spotted in one of the Philippine-claimed islands occupied by China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The rapidly deployable radar and unmanned platform was captured in a satellite image last Nov. 18 on Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), said ImageSat International, a commercial provider of high-resolution satellite images, in a Twitter post on Monday.
For the first time, #China's aerostat, probably for #military #intelligence-gathering purposes, seen by #ISI at #Mischief Reef. The use of #aerostat allows China a continuous situational awareness in this resource-rich region.#IMINT #VISINT #Space #SouthChinaSea #SouthSea pic.twitter.com/EnIzrJNht9
— ImageSat Intl. (@ImageSatIntl) November 24, 2019FEATURED STORIESGLOBALNATIONGLOBALNATION
“For the first time, #China’s aerostat, probably for #military#intelligence-gathering purposes, seen by #ISI at #MischiefReef. The use of #aerostat allows China a continuous situational awareness in this resource-rich region,” ImageSat wrote.
Panganiban Reef is located within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
The Hague court’s 2016 ruling says Panganiban Reef belongs to the Philippines. Part of the ruling says the reef, located about 232 km from Palawan, forms part of the Philippines’ EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and continental shelf, and China has violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its island-building in the area.
Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea, which is crisscrossed by vital sea-lanes through which $5 trillion in global commerce passes every year and where islets, reefs, and atolls are believed to be sitting atop vast energy reserves.
China in recent years had transformed reefs and islands into outposts equipped with harbors, airstrips, missile shelters, communications facilities, expanding its ability to monitor the activity in the South China Sea.
“By itself, (the aerostat) has nothing to with the claim. It’s more eyes on the site, but it’s not like they don’t have a lot,” maritime expert Prof. Jay Batongbacal told INQUIRER.net.
“The big ones are designed for long-range and over-the-horizon detection. This is for short-range. You could say it completed their domain awareness coverage,” he said.
“What is interesting is that this kind of radar is portable and requires less power/equipment to operate; it could mean they are economizing on power consumption and logistics,” he added.
Edited by KGA
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