China is outfitting its manmade island outposts in the South China Sea with warplane hangars and weapons, the Pentagon said Tuesday in its annual assessment of Beijing’s military.
Once finished, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force intends to base three regiments of warplanes there, says the report, which was “generated” on May 15 and released to the public today.
“Although its land reclamation and artificial islands do not strengthen China’s territorial claims as a legal matter or create any new territorial sea entitlements, China will be able to use its reclaimed features as persistent civil-military bases to enhance its presence in the South China Sea and improve China’s ability to control the features and nearby maritime space,” the report says.
China has stopped expanding the reefs and is now working to add military infrastructure to them, the report states. New installations include airfields with runways of at least 8,800 feet, water and fuel storage, large port facilities, 24 fighter-sized hangars, communications facilities, fixed-weapons positions, barracks and administration buildings.
“China’s three air bases in the Spratlys and another on Woody Island in the Paracels will allow Chinese military aircraft to operate over nearly the entire South China Sea,” it said. “The same is true of China’s radar coverage, made possible by advanced surveillance/early-warning radar facilities at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Cuarteron Reefs, as well as Woody Island, and smaller facilities elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, China could soon have new, advanced warplanes to base on those faux islands. Two new stealth fighters — the J-20 and FC-31 — could be battle-ready as soon as next year, the Pentagon states.
A multi-prong terrorist attack has struck Iran’s capital city this morning. Gunmen and suicide bombers converged on three targets including Iran’s Parliament building and the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, killing staff and members of the public.
According Tasnim News, the terrorist attack has killed seven people so far, while 4 others are being held hostage on the top floors of the building:
0802 GMT: Sources told Tasnim that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) hostage rescue teams have killed one of the four gunmen inside the parliament. No official has verified the statement yet.
0823 GMT: A blast occurs on the fifth floor of the parliament building. Snipers have been stationed all around the parliament.
Police helicopters have been deployed over the government building, and the site has been locked down, and security services had phone lines in the complex disconnected, and mobiles jammed.
In a separate incident, terrorist gunmen opened fire at the mausoleum of the Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, south of Tehran. Tasnim reports that terrorists had entered the mausoleum from its western gate:
0722 GMT: Following the shooting, a gunman blew himself and another was shot to death by police forces and a women was also arrested.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks according to the ISIS propaganda arm, Amaq news agency.
A third plot was also foiled Iran’s internal intelligence agency. According to Iranian state broadcaster Irib, “Members of a third group were arrested before being able to carry out any attack.”
The attacks appear to be specifically designed to promote a US-Israeli-Saudi sectarian narrative in the region designed to stoke tensions between different religious sects of Islam. Regarding this, The Guardian reports:“Shia Iran has been singled out as a target by Sunni jihadis, including Isis, but has largely escaped attacks within its urban centres. Iran provides ground forces to fight Isis and other rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.”
“Isis published a rare video in Persian in March, warning that it “will conquer Iran and restore it to the Sunni Muslim nation as it was before”. The group and other extremists consider Shias to be apostates, and the video accuses Iranians of persecuting Sunnis over the centuries.”