The largest transport plane from China’s military landed recently on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross) in the South China Sea, which may signal the start of increased Chinese presence in the disputed reef.
A Chinese daily reported last Friday that a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Y-20 transporter was spotted on Kagitingan Reef last December 25.
Ken Joyce, director of product management of American space technology company Maxar Technologies, also posted satellite images of the Chinese aircraft’s presence in the reef.
In an interview with a national daily, maritime expert Jay Batongbacal said the large Chinese aircraft flying to the reef was probably “to test the plane/airfield equipment and/or to deliver supplies/personnel.” “Naval base has been operational for quite some time (at the reef), and currently support Chinese military/paramilitary maritime forces operating in South China Sea,” he said.
Batongbacal added that once Kagitingan Reef becomes operational as a military base that could host Chinese jet squadrons, this would result in “all major Philippine cities/ports/airports/military bases within striking distance of Chinese air power.” SOVEREIGNPH