There are now high-resolution and detailed images of the artificial islands that China has built in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea. The areas are claimed by China and other neighboring countries, including Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
The images show the complexity of China’s radar installations, airfields, naval gun emplacements, and other buildings and structures.
These images, taken by photographer Ezra Acayan during his aircraft trip across the Spratly Islands, show many man-made fortresses.
Cuarteron Reef is at the east end of the London Reefs in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea. The reef is 3.5 miles long and has an area of 3.1 square miles.
Looking closely at this photo of Cuarteron Reef, you can see naval gun positions on a series of towers and a radar gunnery director. The tower-like structure had a large radome on top. The elevated position of the radar would allow a better perspective.
For island outposts like this, these types of weapons are quite typical. It could hold a Type 730/1130 close-in weapon system (CIWS) and a H/PJ76 76mm multi-purpose deck gun in this case. These would protect the area from low-flying air threats, such as cruise missiles, fighter jets, drones, and nearby warships.
There are also objects covered with camouflage tarps and what looks like a truck-mounted phased array radar.
The main building has domes and antennas all over it. It also has deck-like extensions that are covered and have some kind of system mounted on them.
The surrounding forest area is full of tall antennas and lines connecting them.
Now move to Fiery Cross Reef, another militarized reef occupied by China. According to the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, this is “the most advanced of China’s bases” in the South China Sea’s disputed areas.
Several images show the finished airfield on the island built on the Fiery Cross Reef. In the photo below, we can see the runway surrounded by hangars and a large tower with a radome on top.
From a different angle, we can get a better look at the size and placement of the other domes. There are also a number of trucks and other systems on the scene.
Two photos show one of the places on Fiery Cross Reef that has the most buildings.
In them, you can see an airborne early warning and control aircraft on the taxiway.
On the island, you can also see some of the much bigger, multi-story hangars.
Next comes the Mischief Reef – a low tide elevation reef surrounding a large lagoon east of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. It is located over 150 miles west of Palawan Island in the Philippines. The area is rich in unexplored oil and gas fields.
In this series of photos, there are full-scale runways and airfields. Inside a hangar at the top of the image, lies a Y-9 or another four-engine turboprop aircraft. From these photos, it appears that the airport is quite large and can hold dozens of combat aircraft, ranging from fighters to bombers, in an emergency operation.