China reportedly redeployed fighter jets on disputed Woody Island

World Defense & Security News - China
China reportedly redeployed fighter jets on disputed Woody Island
China has sent fighter jets to an island where it has deployed surface-to-air missile batteries, U.S. media said Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Citing U.S. officials, Fox News reported that Chinese Shenyang J-11s and Xian JH-7s fighter jets had been spotted over the past few days by U.S. intelligence on Woody Island in the Paracel chain. The isle is where Beijing has deployed HQ-9 missiles, which have a range of about 200 km.
China reportedly redeployed fighter jets on disputed Woody Island 640 001US officials revelead on Tuesday that the PLAAF redeployed some J-11s and JH-7s fighter jets on Woody Island, in the Paracel Chain
News of the fighter jet deployment came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington to discuss the South China Sea issue as well as North Korea’s recent nuclear and rocket tests.

Wang sought to tamp down claims of militarization in the waters, saying that “the general situation in the South China Sea is stable compared with other parts of the world.” He said ship owners and insurers have reported no problems and no commercial vessels have had their passage impeded.

China has sent fighter jets to Woody Island before, said Nick Bisley, executive director of the La Trobe Asia program at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. In November, Chinese state media published images showing J-11 fighter jets on the island.

The latest deployment is likely “a statement of intent by China and will be presented as a response to U.S. provocations,” Bisley said.

Tuesday’s dispatch of fighters, however, was the first since Beijing sent commercial airliners in to test the newly built runway on Fiery Cross Reef, one of its artificial islands in the South China Sea in January.

There’s no breach of military precedent here from the Chinese, as the (People’s Liberation Army) has sent J-11s on temporary detachment to Woody before,” Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, told The Japan Times on Wednesday.

But clearly an uncompromising message is being sent to coincide with Wang Yi’s visit to Washington, that China is not constrained or deterred from placing surface-to-air missiles, jets or other defense assets on Woody Island,” Graham added.

Any new deployment to Woody Island could spell trouble for U.S. surveillance aircraft, such as the P-8 Poseidon, which fly through the area regularly. In 2014, a Chinese fighter jet came dangerously close to a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft in the vicinity of Woody Island, according to the Pentagon. The fighter flew close to the surveillance aircraft three times, spokesman John Kirby said, flying above, underneath and alongside it. At one point it performed “a barrel roll” in an apparent display of its weapons.

(Source: The Japan Times)