CHINA / MILITARY
US ballistic missile-detection aircraft hold close-in recon on China, provocative move to be closely monitored: observer
Published: Sep 05, 2021 06:46 PM
Truck-mounted ballistic missile attached to a brigade under the PLA Rocket Force is erected during a recent realistic training exercise at night without scenario planning. Photo:China Military

Truck-mounted ballistic missile attached to a brigade under the PLA Rocket Force is erected during a recent realistic training exercise at night without scenario planning. Photo:China Military


The US military recently dispatched its ballistic missile-detection aircraft for consecutive close-in reconnaissance activities near China, according to reports by a Chinese think tank, with military observers saying on Sunday that the US aircraft attempted to spy on China's ballistic missile tests, but their moves must have been closely monitored by China.

An RC-135S ballistic missile-detection aircraft of the US Air Force conducted close-in reconnaissance on China's coastline from the Yellow Sea on Saturday and Sunday, the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing-based think tank, reported on Sunday.

On both days, the US aircraft took off from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, crossed the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone of China, and conducted close-in reconnaissance activities south of Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, less than 20 nautical miles away from China's territorial waters, the SCSPI said, noting that the RC-135S has been significantly more active recently, with frequent operations above the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea.

The main mission of the RC-135S aircraft is the detection of ballistic missiles, as it can collect electronic signals, use radar system to locate launch positions and utilize optical and infrared devices to track ballistic missiles in real time, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Sending the RC-135S for frequent close-in reconnaissance activities on China shows that the US is wary of Chinese ballistic missile tests, Song said.

In August, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force successfully launched two new-type conventional short-range missiles in the deserts of northwest China in an exercise, media reported at the time.

From August 29 to September 12, China is holding military exercises in the Bohai Strait and the north Yellow Sea, according to a navigation notice released by the Maritime Safety Administration on August 27.

Since the US spy aircraft entered China's air defense identification zone, the PLA must have tracked and identified it, and when necessary, sortied warplanes to intercept it, Song said.

Coinciding with the increased RC-135S activities near China, an unidentified aerial phenomenon was recently reported in North China.

On Thursday evening, a number of residents in Ordos, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region were able to capture an unknown luminous beam across the sky on camera, Hohhot News, an official news outlet based in the capital city of Inner Mongolia, reported on Friday.

Videos show that what seems to be a flying object soared through the sky, leaving a glowing fiery tail behind.

While the report said the cause of the unidentified aerial phenomenon remains unknown, some observers speculated that it could be an aircraft or a rocket.

In June 2019, residents across multiple provinces in China reported UFO sightings. The PLA Rocket Force and Navy then posted on their social media accounts and hinted that the UFO could be a missile launch, with the Chinese Defense Ministry saying later that month that it was a normal, scheduled test.

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