Show of force? China lands bombers on South China Sea airfield

China is also said to be developing a nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile for the H-6K

China has landed strategic bombers on an airfield in the South China Sea for the first time, in what its defense ministry says will enable its bomber crew to gain experience in operating from airfields built on islands and reefs.

In a media release, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said several bombers of various types, including the improved Xian H-6K, carried out landing and take offs at an island airfield following simulated strikes on targets at sea.

Video released by the ministry showed the bombers from the 36th Bomber Division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force or PLAAF carrying out touch and go landings as well as missed approaches on the airfield. Based on the runway orientation and other infrastructure seen in the video, Defense News has verified that airfield is at Woody Island in the Paracels chain, and not the airfields China has built on the reclaimed islands in the disputed Spratly Islands further south.

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