China’s three-kilometer airstrip at Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef in West Philippine Sea is now in advance phase of construction. “Beijing continues to pave and mark the airstrip, has added an apron, and is developing additional support facilities,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said.
The Washington-based think-tank said China’s airstrip in West Philippine Sea (WPS) could accommodate cargo, surveillance, fighter and bomber planes. While Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia’s airstrips in the region are only capable for cargo, surveillance, fighter planes. Vietnam’s airstrip in WPS is only capable for cargo, surveillance planes.
China’s airstrip is long enough to land and deploy Chinese H-6G bomber that could perform combat operations within 3,500 miles of the reclaimed reef, AMTI-CSIS added. Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) airstrip “would also be capable of landing and deploying the Chinese Shenyang J-11 fourth-generation fighter, using runway requirements derived from a Russian Su-27 fighter, which would be capable of combat operations within 870 miles of the reef.”
Amid the development in it’s first airstrip in WPS, China could be in the works for its second airstrip in West Philippine Sea. “Recent photos of Subi Reef suggest that China may also be preparing to lay down a second Spratly airstrip there, but no actual paving has been observed,” the think-tank said.
Philippines’ airstip in Pagasa Island – though long enough to land and deploy cargo, surveillance, fighter planes – “is an unpaved, dirt surface with large, dirt aprons and is extremely worn. No major construction or engineering has been observed near this runway in recent years,” AMTI-CSIS noted.