Satellite images appear to show new Xian KJ-600 carrier-borne AEW aircraft at a base in Xian-Yanliang in the central part of the country. The move, according to Forbes and defence analysts, heralds a new era of naval power and a major development and capability leap for the Chinese Navy.
At the same time, new images show Type 093 nuclear submarine Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) at Yulin Naval Base, on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan.
PlanetLabs Inc, a private satellite image company, took both images at a time when the country undertook missile tests.
Bejing launched four medium-range ballistic missiles into the South China Sea between Hainan Island and the Paracels.
The US Defence Department condemned the actions, claiming it threatens regional peace and security.
In recent days, a US Navy warship also carried out a routine operation near the Paracel Islands, something frequently criticized by Beijing as threatening its sovereignty.
Oriana Skylar Mastro, fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said of the submarines: “Chinese submarines, as they become more advanced, are still noisier than US submarines.
“But it’s not really a question of their submarines versus our submarines.
“It’s their submarines versus our ASW and our submarines versus their ASW [Anti-submarine warfare].
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“If US warships navigate and pass through the South China Sea with no harm, they should not worry about PLA exercises, as the Chinese army will not threaten foreign ships passing by.
“But the US’ intention is malicious when it sends warships to the South China Sea.”
The publication warned the “situation in the South China Sea is turning increasingly tense” stressing China would like to “strengthen the management of military frictions”.
It added: “China does not want any conflicts between the two militaries in the South China Sea, but the Chinese military will firmly respond when provoked. PLA exercises are prepared for worst-case scenarios.”
The US and China have been in a heated row over the South China Sea whilst Washington has slammed Beijing’s efforts to exert greater control over Hong Kong and the lack of action for controlling the Coronavirus pandemic.
Beijing has already established military outposts on the Paracel Islands and the Spratly islands – two disputed archipelagos which the US says undermines the sovereign rights of American partners in the region.