US sends spy planes to S.China, Yellow seas for info on PLA submarine, aircraft carrier moves: experts

By Liu Xuanzun Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/23 17:53:41

A naval formation consisting of aircraft carrier Liaoning has conducted take-off and landing drills in the South China Sea on Jan. 1, 2017. The formation, which is on a "cross-sea area" training exercise, involved J-15 fighter jets, as well as several ship-borne helicopters. (Photo source:

On the same day news came out that the US asked China to close its Consulate General in Houston, the US military sent reconnaissance aircraft to the South China Sea and Yellow Sea, a move likely aimed at gathering intelligence on possible submarine and aircraft carrier movements by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), experts said on Thursday.

A US Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and a US Army RC-12X signals intelligence collection aircraft on Wednesday entered the South China Sea and Yellow Sea respectively, according to the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing-based think tank.

Chinese military expert Wei Dongxu told the Global Times on Thursday that the P-8A in the South China Sea could track the locations of PLA surface vessels via radar and optic devices, and detect PLA submarine activities via sonar buoys. It could also gather intelligence on PLA deployments on islands and reefs.

The US Navy has been holding naval exercises with Australia and Japan in the Philippine Sea. When Australian warships traveled close to the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea last week, they encountered the Chinese Navy, Australian media outlet ABC News reported on Wednesday.

China also conducted maritime attack drills in the South China Sea and deployed warplanes in an island in the region amid the US aggression, Chinese media reported.

In the Yellow Sea, the RC-12X could gather communication data and radar signals, Wei said, noting that it could seek to eavesdrop on PLA flotilla in the region.

Citing an image by commercial satellites first circulated on foreign social media, Chinese new portal Sina reported on Tuesday that the PLA Navy aircraft carrier Liaoning was found in the Yellow Sea training with the Hulunhu replenishment ship on Monday.

The US has been frequently conducting reconnaissance operations in the South China Sea, on the coastal regions of the Chinese mainland and near the island of Taiwan in the past weeks, reports said.

The US military aircraft's activities on Wednesday also coincided with the US demand that China close its Houston consulate. Observers in the US feared that escalating China-US tensions could lead to a military conflict.

Wei said that the US' political provocations are closely related to its military activities, as it is trying to defame China and stir up trouble militarily at the same time.

Neither China nor the US wants to engage each other in a military conflict, as that would be a disaster for both countries and the world, analysts said, noting that while the US' close-up reconnaissance activities show the US military is preparing and aiming to gain certain advantages, the PLA is also making preparations, as its capability and determination will serve as a powerful deterrent.

As a country from outside the region, the US military's frequent presence and muscle-flexing in the South China Sea is not wanted by many countries in the region, Wei said.

Posted in: MILITARY

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